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Administrate vs. Administer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Administrate is a less common variant of administer; both mean to manage or oversee operations.

Key Differences

Administrate and administer are terms that are closely related and often used interchangeably, but they have nuanced differences in usage. Administrate is generally used to refer to the act of overseeing the operations or functions of an organization or system. For example, to administrate a school means to manage and oversee its operations, ensuring that educational and administrative processes run smoothly.
Administer, on the other hand, often carries a more hands-on connotation. It implies not just oversight but also the direct implementation of actions. To administer medication means to actually give the medication to a patient. This term is also commonly used in a wider array of contexts, such as law, medicine, and technology, and can involve executing duties or applying something effectively.
The word administrate is more specifically aligned with the function of management or governance, highlighting the role of administration in an official or formal capacity. It is the process of effectively managing the affairs of an organization or system. Conversely, administer can encompass these same management duties but extends to the execution of any task or the application of services or care.
In a corporate setting, administrate might refer to the broader strategic planning and execution of company policies, while administer may focus on the actual carrying out of these policies, like administering company regulations or administering a client's account. In both cases, the roles involve responsibility and control over processes and systems.
When it comes to frequency of use, administrate is less common and somewhat more formal. It's often found in a business or bureaucratic context. Administer is more widely used and is recognized in various fields, from medicine, where one may administer a drug, to law, where one may administer justice or an estate. Both words reflect the act of managing, directing, or applying resources or policies.

Comparison Chart

Primary Meaning

To manage or direct operations.
To give, apply, or manage something.

Usage Context

More formal and less common.
Broad and widely used.


Often implies bureaucracy.
Suggests direct involvement.


Mainly used in managerial sense.
Used in a variety of contexts.


Often related to strategic oversight.
Involves execution of tasks.

Administrate and Administer Definitions


To govern the functions of a business or operation.
His role is to administrate the educational policies of the school district.


To apply or give out as in a medical or legal sense.
The nurse will administer your medication shortly.


To manage operations and processes.
They will administrate the network's security protocols.


To provide or issue officially.
The program administers grants to small businesses.


To carry out executive functions in an organization.
The board of directors administrates the nonprofit's activities.


To bring into use or operation.
The government has to administer new laws effectively.


To oversee and organize the affairs of an institution or body.
She was hired to administrate the new company division.


To manage or supervise the execution, use, or conduct of.
He will administer the annual budget for the project.


To administer.


To carry out a religious rite.
The priest will administer the sacraments during the service.


To administer


To have charge of; manage.


(computing) the act or function of providing maintenance and general housekeeping for computer systems, networks, peripheral equipment, etc.
The job is to administrate the network.


To give or apply in a formal way
Administer the last rites.


To administer.


Work in an administrative capacity; supervise;
Administer a program


To have executive responsibility for a project.
The IT department is set to administrate the upcoming system upgrade.


Does administrate imply a higher level of responsibility?

It often implies overseeing or managing on a broader, more strategic level.

Is administrate a real word?

Yes, administrate is a less common variant of administer.

Can you administer without administrating?

Yes, you can administer (carry out) tasks without having the broader role of administrating (managing).

Is administrate more associated with bureaucracy?

Yes, it's more commonly associated with formal management structures.

Can both administrate and administer be used interchangeably?

They are often used interchangeably, but there can be nuanced differences.

Can administer be used in a medical context?

Yes, it's often used to refer to the application of treatments.

Can both terms be used in a legal context?

Yes, but administer is more common, as in administering an estate.

Do administrate and administer come from the same root word?

Yes, both derive from the Latin word 'administrare'.

Is administer more commonly used than administrate?

Yes, administer is more widely recognized and used.

Is one more formal than the other?

Administrate is generally considered more formal.

Can either term refer to a person?

Yes, as in administrator, someone who administrates or administers.

Is administer more action-oriented?

Yes, it often implies direct action, such as administering medication.

Is administrate ever used in a medical sense?

It's not common; administer is preferred in medical contexts.

Does the context change the choice between administrate and administer?

Yes, context can influence which term is more appropriate.

Does administrate usually require a management position?

Typically, yes, it relates to management or governance roles.

Are there cases where only administer should be used?

Yes, in contexts like administering oaths or medicines.

Is administrate often used in educational contexts?

Yes, it's frequently used in relation to managing educational institutions.

Can either term be used in a technological context?

Yes, both can be used, such as administrating or administering a server.

Are these terms used in all English-speaking countries?

Yes, though usage can vary by region.

Can an individual both administrate and administer?

Yes, a person can have roles that involve both managing and carrying out tasks.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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