I have a question about the usage of the verb "administer" in this news article:

In remarks shortly after her leadership was affirmed, May said her priorities will be to administer Britain's exit from the European Union, a move approved by voters last month, to unite the country and to create a "strong, new, positive vision for the future," not just for the privileged few, but for everyone.

According to dictionaries, one could:

--administer an organization
--administer a fund
--administer an examination
--administer an oath

But, the phrase "administer Britain's exit from the European Union" in the new article, does not fit dictionary definitions, as "Britain's exit" is neither an organization, nor a fund, nor an exam, nor an oath.

So, is it an poor usage of "administer" in the news article?

  • You can also administer a law or regulation, of which Brexit is. If you went only by the dictionary you have, system administrators couldn't administer systems!
    – eijen
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:27
  • It is a vaguely figurative meaning, roughly synonymous with "oversee a process". Someone can administer "the affairs" of another person, the matters that arise. It accepts the nebulous.
    – TimR
    Jul 12, 2016 at 23:16
  • @TRomano So, the usage of "administer" in the news article is suspect?
    – meatie
    Jul 13, 2016 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


To "administer" is "to have charge of; to manage". http://www.thefreedictionary.com/administer

You can administer an organization, like a business or a government agency. You can also administer an event, like an exam. Or like a Brexit.

That is, May will be managing the process of Britain's exit.

The list you cite is a list of examples of things someone could administer. But it is not complete. There are many other things one could administer besides what is listed there.


The usage of "administer" is correct.

to administer

is to control the operation or arrangement of something which is what Theresa May will be doing as the next UK PM: guiding and controlling the path towards Brexit.

The first official step, in terms of Brexit, will be to invoke Article 50 which she has said she will not do until next year.

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