Webster 1913 Edition



. See
The act of governing; the exercise of authority; the administration of laws; control; direction; regulation;
as, civil, church, or family government
The mode of governing; the system of polity in a state; the established form of law.
That free
which we have so dearly purchased, free commonwealth.
The right or power of governing; authority.
I here resign my
to thee.
The person or persons authorized to administer the laws; the ruling power; the administration.
When we, in England, speak of the
, we generally understand the ministers of the crown for the time being.
Mozley & W.
The body politic governed by one authority; a state;
as, the
of Europe
Management of the limbs or body.
The influence of a word in regard to construction, requiring that another word should be in a particular case.

Webster 1828 Edition



Direction; regulation. These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.
Control; restraint. Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.
The exercise of authority; direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies or states; the administration of public affairs, according to established constitution, laws and usages, or by arbitrary edicts. Prussia rose to importance under the government of Frederick II.
The exercise of authority by a parent or householder. Children are often ruined by a neglect of government in parents.
Let family government be like that of our heavenly Father, mild, gentle and affectionate.
The system of polity in a state; that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social actions; a constitution, either written or unwritten, by which the rights and duties of citizens and public officers are prescribed and defined; as a monarchial government, or a republican government.
Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without the pretence of miracle or mystery, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
An empire, kingdom or state; any territory over which the right of sovereignty is extended.
The right of governing or administering the laws. The king of England vested the government of Ireland in the lord lieutenant.
The persons or council which administer the laws of a kingdom or state; executive power.
Manageableness; compliance; obsequiousness.
Regularity of behavior. [Not in use.]
10. Management of the limbs or body. [Not in use.]
11. In grammar, the influence of a word in regard to construction,as when established usage required that one word should cause another to be in a particular case or mode.

Definition 2022




Alternative forms


government (countable and uncountable, plural governments) (Can we add an example for this sense?)

  1. The body with the power to make and/or enforce laws to control a country, land area, people or organization.
    • 2013 July 6, The rise of smart beta”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8843, page 68:
      Investors face a quandary. Cash offers a return of virtually zero in many developed countries; government-bond yields may have risen in recent weeks but they are still unattractive. Equities have suffered two big bear markets since 2000 and are wobbling again. It is hardly surprising that pension funds, insurers and endowments are searching for new sources of return.
  2. (grammar, linguistics) The relationship between a word and its dependents
  3. A group of people who hold a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given territory.
  4. The state and its administration viewed as the ruling political power.
    • 2013 June 22, Snakes and ladders”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 76:
      Risk is everywhere. From tabloid headlines insisting that coffee causes cancer (yesterday, of course, it cured it) to stern government warnings about alcohol and driving, the world is teeming with goblins.
  5. (uncountable) The management or control of a system.
    Economocracy is government of the people, for the plutocrats, by their puppets.
  6. The tenure of a chief of state.

Derived terms

Related terms

Usage notes

In the United States, "government" is considered to be divided into three branches; the legislature (the House of Representatives and the Senate) which makes law, the Administration (under the President) which runs sections of government within the law, and the Courts, which adjudicate on matters of the law. This is a much wider meaning of "government" than exists in other countries where the term "government" means the ruling political force of the prime minister and his/her cabinet ministers (what Americans would call the Administration). In Britain, the administrative organs of the nation are collectively referred to as "the state". In Canada government is used in both senses and neither state nor administration are used. Applied to many countries in continental Europe (when using English), the British usage is common.


See also

  • ocracy


Most common English words before 1923: according · walked · office · #600: government · particular · charge · church