(redirected from Governments)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms.
Related to Governments: Democratic governments


system of social control under which the right to make laws, and the right to enforce them, is vested in a particular group in society. There are many classifications of government. According to the classical formula, governments are distinguished by whether power is held by one man, a few, or a majority. Today, it is common to distinguish between types of government on the basis of institutional organization and the degree of control exercised over the society. Organizationally, governments may be classified into parliamentary or presidential systems, depending on the relationship between executive and legislature. Government may also be classified according to the distribution of power at different levels. It may be unitary—i.e., with the central government controlling local affairs—or it may be federated or confederated, according to the degree of autonomy of local government. The basic law determining the form of government is called the constitutionconstitution,
fundamental principles of government in a nation, either implied in its laws, institutions, and customs, or embodied in one fundamental document or in several.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and may be written, as in the United States, or largely unwritten, as in Great Britain. Modern governments perform many functions besides the traditional ones of providing internal and external security, order, and justice; most are involved in providing welfare services, regulating the economy, and establishing educational systems. The extreme case of governmental regulation of every aspect of people's lives is totalitarianismtotalitarianism
, a modern autocratic government in which the state involves itself in all facets of society, including the daily life of its citizens. A totalitarian government seeks to control not only all economic and political matters but the attitudes, values, and beliefs
..... Click the link for more information.


See R. M. MacIver, The Web of Government (rev. ed. 1965); S. H. Beer, Patterns of Government (3d ed. 1973); G. A. Almond and G. B. Powell, Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach (1966); S. E. Finer, Comparative Government (1970).



the highest executive body of a state. Sometimes called the council of ministers or cabinet of ministers, governments are headed by a prime minister, a chancellor, or by the chairman of the council of ministers or cabinet of ministers. In some countries the government is headed by the head of state—in the USA, for example, by the president. Such members of the government as ministers, secretaries, and secretaries of state direct state administrative departments. Governments may be composed of one or of several parties. Federal states have a central or federal government as well as governments of the political units, for example, states or provinces, that form the federation.

In capitalist countries governments are formed by a parliament or are appointed by the monarch or president. In the Federal Republic of Germany, Ireland, and Japan the head of state appoints as premier or chancellor a person elected by parliament. In many countries the government according to law is responsible to parliament, but in reality all the power is generally wielded by the government and its head; this system of government by ministers has replaced parliamentarism. In capitalist countries, the government’s delegated legislative power is of great importance. Bourgeois governments are continually under the influence of large capitalist conglomerates, which determine the government’s composition and policies. Thus, the government becomes in actuality the political instrument of a small group of leading monopolists, who utilize the government to control society.

In socialist states the government is formed by the highest body of the people’s representatives, to which it is responsible and accountable. The governments of the socialist countries are the highest executive and administrative bodies of state authority. Their formation, composition, and scope are determined by constitutions or by constitutional laws.



in linguistics, a syntactic relationship between the parts of a sentence; the lexical and grammatical characteristics of one part (the governing part) determine the grammatical form of another part (the subordinate part). For example, a transitive verb requires an object in the accusative case without a preposition, as in “I see a friend.”

In the structure of a sentence, the relationship of government applies to the objects of nouns and is in contrast to the relationships of agreement and subordination. In verbal government the verb is the governing part, and in nominal government the verbal noun is the governing part.

In Russian, the subordinate part of a sentence governed by a transitive verb is in the accusative case without a preposition (direct object); the subordinate part of a sentence governed by an intransitive verb is in the genitive or another case (indirect object). There is a certain correlation between verbal and nominal government. When a verbal noun has been formed from a transitive verb, the accusative case of the direct object changes to the genitive case. For example, in the phrase vybirat’ knigu (“to choose a book”) the noun is in the accusative case, and in vybor knigi (“the choice of a book”) it is in the genitive case. If the verb is intransitive, the case of the indirect object does not change. For example, in both zhazhdat’ slavy (“to long for glory”) and zhazhda slavy (“a longing for glory”) the noun is in the genitive case. Government of an indirect object may occur without a preposition, as in bolet’ grippom (“to be ill with [by means of] influenza”), or with a preposition, as in bolet’ za komandu (“to be a fan of the team”).

Government may also be strong or loose. In strong government the choice of the preposition and of the case of the governed part is strictly restricted. For example, zaviset’ ot (“to depend on”) must be followed by the genitive case. Loose government permits a freer choice of combinations of the governing part with different forms of the subordinate part. For example, govorit’s (“to speak with”) is followed by a noun in the instrumental case, and govorit’ o (“to speak about”) is followed by a noun in the prepositional case.



1. the exercise of political authority over the actions, affairs, etc., of a political unit, people, etc., as well as the performance of certain functions for this unit or body; the action of governing; political rule and administration
2. the system or form by which a community, etc., is ruled
3. the executive policy-making body of a political unit, community, etc.; ministry or administration
a. the state and its administration
b. (as modifier): a government agency
References in classic literature ?
The manner," says he, "in which the governments of the States where slavery exists are to regulate it is for their own consideration, under the responsibility to their constituents, to the general laws of propriety, humanity, and justice, and to God.
Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.
At this day it cannot but strike us as extraordinary, that it does not appear to have occurred to any one member of that assembly, which had laid down in terms so clear, so explicit, so unequivocal, the foundation of all just government, in the imprescriptible rights of man, and the transcendent sovereignty of the people, and who in those principles had set forth their only personal vindication from the charges of rebellion against their king, and of treason to their country, that their last crowning act was still to be performed upon the same principles.
They were the productions of different minds and of adverse passions; one, ascending for the foundation of human government to the laws of nature and of God, written upon the heart of man; the other, resting upon the basis of human institutions, and prescriptive law, and colonial charter.
Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it?
While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable withal, that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.
Let us therefore proceed to examine whether the people are not right in their opinion that a cordial Union, under an efficient national government, affords them the best security that can be devised against HOSTILITIES from abroad.
It is of high importance to the peace of America that she observe the laws of nations towards all these powers, and to me it appears evident that this will be more perfectly and punctually done by one national government than it could be either by thirteen separate States or by three or four distinct confederacies.
The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.
Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.
It is also nearly the same in the treatise upon Laws which was writ afterwards, for which reason it will be proper in this place to consider briefly what he has there said upon government, for Socrates has thoroughly settled but very few parts of it; as for instance, in what manner the community of wives and children ought to be regulated, how property should be established, and government conducted.
But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.

Full browser ?