This phrase is said as part of the script of a film where a CIA agent who is romantically involved with this woman Carol is traveling with her and apparently going on some sort of official mission where she can involuntarily help him with that mission.

So, that's what's his colleagues guess that he is doing: "He must be running Carol".

What synonym verb would you use instead of "run" in this case?

What's exactly the idea expressed here? Does it mean that the guy is taking advantage of Carol in some way?


  • deploying? assigning to a task? It’s hard to tell without more context.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 23:53
  • 2
    "Running", in the sense used to refer to spies, means to be controlling and directing them, usually because the person doing the controlling is the spy's superior.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 0:31
  • Lawrence, not much else about the context. Hot Licks, that makes sense! Thanks so much!
    – Alina R
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 19:22
  • You are describing seducing for the sake of manipulating a beau. Running Carol is like treating her like his puppet. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


In the context of the question, run is used in the following sense:

6 d : to employ or supervise in espionage
// run an agent

In other words, synonymous verbs include employ and supervise. You could also use manage.

From "Lessons From My Father: How To Run A Secret Agent," by John Hadden:

Son: So when you’re running an agent, you feel quite responsible.

Father: Oh, God, yes, it’s terrible, yes, it’s a strain. It’s stressful in two ways. One, it’s stressful professionally because you screwed it up, and the other stress is human. You’ve gotten quite close to these people, and you…

Son: How so?

Father: Oh, Christ, you talk to them hour after hour after hour, to make sure they don’t make a mistake, walk them through each step of the way, and make sure that they feel useful, and valuable, and valued, and that what they’re doing is worthwhile, even though you don’t think so yourself … It’s hard …

  • Thanks so much, Jason! That really helps!
    – Alina R
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 12:41

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