I need to know the following:

  • Is control a synonym for supervise?
  • Is direct a synonym for supervise?
  • Is lead a synonym for supervise?
  • Is head a synonym for supervise/supervisor/lead/leader?

I have looked these up in various thesauri and each one is different. While some thesauruses show some or all of the above words as synonyms for supervise, some do not. This is why I am looking for a clear answer to whether or not these words are synonyms for supervise.

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  • What did you find when you looked each of these words up in a thesaurus? Or even a dictionary? Add that information into your question and we can keep it open. – Dan Bron Jun 25 '15 at 18:04
  • Leading for me indicates "Leader" who is well respected and has people management skills. As for rest they are less polite (speaking for myself) – alpa Jun 25 '15 at 18:47

I can say easily that head is a synonym for supervisor/leader because the Head of Admissions at a university is the leader in the group of people considering admissions.

Supervise (v) doesn't quite remain synonymous with control, direct, or lead. Although a thesaurus might say it is a synonym, it could also just mean that those two words are similar.

Think of all these words on a scale, with different meanings. If 'supervise' is the word you want, all of these fall under it, some warmer and some colder.

Control, for example. If you have a toy robot or car, you are controlling it with the remote. The thing being controlled has no free will whatsoever.

Direct is also not quite the same. Think of this as someone directing a play or movie. It may be a little closer to supervise than control since a director may advise the actors on how to improve technique.

Lead is a little farther away than both of the other words. Think of someone leading an expedition into the Sahara Desert. This person is implying that the others must follow his lead.

Overall, supervise tends to imply a non-interfering caretaker. If someone has to supervise a classroom of high schoolers, it is implied that they know the basics, that they shouldn't be destroying everything and starting fires. But the supervisor is needed in case something small happens, or if one of the kids has a question.

  • So. If I say the president supervises the executive branch, the president controls the executive branch, and the president leads the executive branch these three sentences mean three different things? – Jay Jun 26 '15 at 0:52

Direct/manage/ovresee/to be in charge/to look over/to pursue--all these are dictionary meaning of supervise.So, --control,direct,lead--- may be synonymous to supervise but accepting-- to head__ a synonym for supervisor/lead/leader/supervise may not be proper.A superviser is responsible for over all control,leaders and heads are not.

  • Unlikely - Control flows from Top to bottom - Managers/Heads define parameters and constraints for supervisors to operate/act on. – alpa Jun 25 '15 at 18:52

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