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Q From Connie Anderson: Gubernatorial: any info on this word?

A This is the adjective relating to a governor, particularly a governor in one of the states in the US. It looks odd because whoever coined it in the eighteenth century went back to the Latin original of the word governor, which is gubernator, and re-imported it. That word comes from the verb gubernare, to govern, but which originally meant to steer a ship, hence its figurative sense of “one who guides or leads”; it came to Latin from the Greek kubernan, “to steer”, and so is related to our modern word cybernetics and all the words beginning cyber-.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 17 Oct. 1998

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gub1.htm
Last modified: 17 October 1998.