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1 [only before noun] having the power and authority to control an organization, country etc [= ruling]:
FIFA is the governing body of world soccer (=the group of people who control it).
The Democrats are now the governing party (=the party in power) in the country.
the governing class of ancient Rome

governing principle

a principle that has the most important influence on something:
Freedom of speech is one of the governing principles in a democracy.
[↪ self-governing]

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