They seem to function the same. Manage is even "control in action or use" according to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/manage. Control is a verb so isn't that in action as well? Thus, is it the same? I don't see them being listed as synonyms. If they are different, can anyone point out how they are different? This is driving me nuts.

It is here used in this context: "You will have the capability to control the system." Compared to "You will have the capability to manage the system."

4 Answers 4


Perhaps you are looking at the wrong dictionary. At Synonym.com, you will find various clusters of meaning for the verbs manage and control. They overlap and are shown as synonyms in one sense. Of course that does not mean they have identical meanings. Also note that control is also used as a noun, and that is not true of manage.

Synonyms for manage

Sense 1: pull off, negociate [sic], bring off, carry off, succeed, win, come through, bring home the bacon, deliver the goods

Sense 2: deal, care, handle, control, command

Sense 3: cope, get by, make out, make do, contend, grapple, deal, act, move

Sense 4: oversee, supervise, superintend, administer, administrate

Sense 5: wangle, finagle, achieve, accomplish, attain, reach

Sense 6: do

Sense 7: wield, handle, manipulate

Synonyms for control

Sense 1: command

Sense 2: hold in, hold, contain, check, curb, moderate, restrain, keep, keep back, hold back

Sense 3: operate, manipulate

Sense 4: manipulate, keep in line, interact

Sense 5: verify, test, prove, try, try out, examine, essay

Sense 6: see, check, insure, see to it, ensure, ascertain, assure

Sense 7: see, check, insure, see to it, ensure, ascertain, assure, verify

Sense 8: master, know


Very loosely, control connotes "making the decisions", while manage connotes exercising that 'control' to coordinate operations and "direct them effectively towards specific ends".

In a modern corporation, control is formally vested in the shareholders, exercised through an elected board of directors; these hire "executives" (literally, people who actually do stuff) to manage the business. In fact, the executives usually manage not only the business but the directors, too, giving them de facto control as well.

So which you want to use really depends on what you empower people to do.


When you control someone/something, you have full access to all the facilities in it. So you can exactly do all the steps you intend to do to get a result. But when you manage, you need to convince someone/something (accept it/his/her view too) to get a result which will be done in their own way (the steps may not be the same as your way).

When you control a helicopter you need to give a signal each time to position it in air to reach a point (you can go fast, slow, whirling...any way you wish). But when you manage a helicopter like the one's that come in the film Planes (vehicles alive). You will have to instruct them to get to the same point (but it's up to them to go fast, slow...things that are not in instructions).


To make it an even shorter definition/comparison:

Control has absolute power/control, while Manage has limited power/control.

The owner of a company says: "Do this and do that". The Manager put things into place so "This and That" can happen.

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