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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1951 (DOST Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Govern(e, Gowern(e, v. Also: govirn(e, govarn, gwuern (gwern). [ME. governe (c 1300), OF. governer.]

1. tr. To rule (a country or people) with supreme authority. 1375 Barb. ii. 103.
Men hes gert you undirstand … That the Erle of Carryk Clamys to govern the kinryk
Ib. xix. 470.
He that ledis thame war worthy … To gouerne the empyre of Rome
c1420 Wynt. iv. 2386.
Octovyane … Ras off Rome bathe lord and syre, And governyd stoutly the empyre
Ib. ix. 1119.
God … gyve him gras To govern and wphald his land
1456 Hay I. 255/18.
Sen that realme is governyt be condiciouns of the pape and under his obedience
Ib. II. 19/12.
That he have governement just and lele till governe his subjectis
1490 Irland Mir. I. 5/15.
To gif kingis, lordis, and princis exempill hou thai suld reule and gouerne thar pepill
1531 Bell. Boece I. 6.
Hiber … left his broder to governe thaim be his autorite and justice
a1578 Pitsc. I. 14/2.
Becaus the king was nocht sufficient to governe the realme for inlaik of aige
absol. c1420 Wynt. vi. 2462.
Syne that Edgar Ethlyng … na wes to governe off wertu
1456 Hay I. 45/22.
Quhen the consules gouernyt at Rome

2. To exercise control over (something); to manage, direct, or keep in order. 1375 Barb. i. 486.
Will ȝe nocht se How that gouernyt is this countre
Ib. x. 156.
Throu fortrassis that war then Gouernit and led with Ynglis men
a1400 Leg. S. xxi. 634.
He … Clement his successoure can mak, Fore to gowerne haly kirk
Ib. xl. 525.
Sa, that [coble] … gouernande, Haile & sounde he com to lande
?1438 Alex. ii. 431.
How the fecht suld gouerned be Aganes Clarus and his menȝe
1456 Hay I. 75/34.
All thir erdly thingis … ar governyt and sterit be the hevin
Ib. II. 16/12.
That he lere to governe hors and armouris
a1500 Bernardus 30.
The … negligens Of hym that sulde his howsald and expens Gowerne with grace
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 744.
The renkis of the Round Tabill That has traistly thame tight to governe that gait
1513 Doug. ii. viii. 64.
Automedon … Was wont to govarn Achilles cart in weir
1533 Gau 49/30.
He is the same … quhilk rewlis and gwuerms al thing
a1540 Freiris Berw. 127.
He govirnit alhaill the abbacy
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxvii. 18.
We haiff thé chosin … Our tossit gaiay to gowerne & to gyde

3. To command, control or direct (persons); to regulate in respect of actions or conduct. 1375 Barb. xii. 499.
Till the battall that schir Eduard Gouernyt and led
Ib. xix. 467.
Ȝone folk ar gouernyt wittely
a1400 Leg. S. l. 218.
Gyf thu king will be, In thocht lat resone gowerne thé
c1420 Wynt. vi. 2271.
The waward suld governyd be Be hym and his posteryte
?1438 Alex. i. 1662.
Gude Emynedus … That gouernit thame wysely in that raid
Ib. ii. 8092.
The fyft battell gouerne thow sall
1447 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 15.
That the … chaplaynis sall be rewlyt and governyt … be the sight of the alderman and counsaile
1456 Hay I. 151/11.
Sa was battaillis wount … to be governit; sum governyt ten, … sum ane hundreth
Ib. 301/19.
Quhen a man is our delytabily nurist and governyt in his youthede
1490 Irland Mir. I. 140/51.
The prelotis and princis, that suld wach and gouern the pepil
1513 Doug. i. v. 11.
O thow, … quhilk governys, rewlis and steris Baith goddis and men be thyne eterne empyre
1531 Bell. Boece II. 226.
Within that time [the age of 21] thay sal be governit be thair curatouris
1560 Rolland Seven S. 387.
Gif we list weill this barne gouerne and gyde

b. refl. To conduct or behave (oneself). 1375 Barb. ii. 588.
On this maner thaim gouernyt thai, Till thai come to the hed of Tay
Ib. xvi. 321.
Couth he haf gouernit hym throu skill … It wes weill lik [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. ii. 726.
Thai … War sottis wyle … Na governyde thame be na wertu
?1438 Alex. ii. 296.
For with larges and courtessy He gouernis him in cheualry
1456 Hay I. 66/29.
He gave to man wit and resoun … to governe him resonably
Ib. 295/21.
That thai governe thame till haly kirk as sone to moder
a1500 Henr. III. 137/28.
In my ȝowtheid … I … Cowld nocht tak tent to gyd & gouerne me
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xix. 5, 10, etc.
Lord god, how sall I goverue me?
absol. 1456 Hay II. 150/24.
For the body … helpis him, manetenis him and furtheris him to governe tharefter
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 100.
He gouernys euer with paciens, And euer is of fair eloquens
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 228/14.
A gud actif and wertuis man and all his tyme well gouernand

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"Govern v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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