18 Most Common Synonyms for Manage


If you manage something, you may mean one of two definitions. The first is to be in charge of something, such as a project. The second is to cope with a challenge or difficult situation.

If someone is talking about managing something, you can figure out which definition they mean by looking at the context.

It is also possible to major in a subject such as project management, where you learn to balance the needs of a company, its employees, and resources. These types of skills are essential for a successful business.

Whether you are the boss, or just dealing with a challenge in your life, these are synonyms for manage that you can use to describe what you are doing.

Synonyms for Manage (verb meaning to be in charge of something, to lead)

1. To be in charge of something

If you are in charge of something, such as a project or a person, it means that you have responsibility for it or them.

If something goes wrong, you will be the person that is blamed. On the contrary, if everything goes well, you will also be recognized! Whatever the case, you are the person that should know the most about the project as a whole.

  • Julie is in charge of this school, but her leadership is seriously lacking.
  • When you become a parent, you become much more responsible and aware simply because you are now in charge of a person’s life.

2. To lead something

To lead something means to be at the head of it. You tell that something – whether it is a group at work or an animal – where to go, what to do, and can give them advice.

It is likely that you are more experienced in some way, so sharing what you know can be a great way to lead. When you lead with something, it means that the thing is what you say, do, or explain first.

  • Martha, I want you to lead this department because I think you have a really great vision for the future.
  • When you give a speech, try to lead with the main idea of the speech before you start to explain all the details.

3. To head

A person’s head is what sits on top of their shoulders, and tells the rest of the body what it should do. Similarly, the head of an organization is the person or group that tells the rest of the organization what to do.

The way that they head it will determine what happens with it. In other words, to head means to lead and take responsibility for something.

  • If you are looking to negotiate your salary, you should talk to Pete, who heads the human resources department.
  • I have always wanted to head the college of natural sciences at a university, so I was ecstatic when I heard that the University of Oregon offered me the position!

4. To direct

To direct has several meanings. The first is to lead an organization, or to regulate or carry out something. The second has to do with the movie industry. When you direct a movie, you lead the production of the film.

You are responsible for figuring out the filming schedule, choosing which actors and crew members to hire, and helping with editing the movie afterwards. You have general responsibilities for managing the movie, from start to finish.

  • The first time that Bobby directed a movie, he was disorganized and went beyond the budgeted time and money.
  • Vira directs all the podcast-related activities for the brand, so if you have a request for a podcast guest, you should contact her directly.

5. To govern

To govern means to lead, but specifically for a government. People who govern can do things like pass laws, work with other countries, collect taxes, and organize public systems such as schools and sanitation systems in an area.

Some non-governmental organizations that are similar to governments (large, very structured leadership) can be described using govern as well.

  • The president governed over one of the most economically prosperous periods of the country’s history, making her extremely successful and well-liked.
  • Mallory and Kaitlyn do not want their dress and eating habits to be governed by anyone.

6. To supervise

If you supervise something, it means that you are in charge of something, or that you oversee it. In general, it is used for something related to the workplace.

If you supervise a project, that means that you are in charge of keeping track of it and making sure it progresses along. If you supervise a group of people, you are generally responsible for making sure that they are working rather than wasting their time away.

  • My boss was supposed to supervise me during work hours, but he was always so busy that he never had time to figure out what I was working on.
  • I do not believe that people need to be closely supervised; in fact, I think that people who are watched too closely can do worse work.

7. To oversee

To oversee something means to “see over” it – in other words, to supervise it. If you oversee something, chances are that you are not a typical boss. Instead, someone who oversees a project can check in every once in a while.

They may ask for periodic updates on something, but will not be there day to day to understand the situation.

  • The legislative branch of the government has the power to oversee what the executive and judiciary branches do, to check their power.
  • Ned forgot that he had to oversee the project, but luckily he still had enough time to check in with the leader of the project.

8. To preside over

If you preside over something, you exercise control over it. You are the person who has the authority in the situation, so you become the go-to person for questions.

This verb is often used when talking about a judge in a courtroom; you can say that the judge presides over their courtroom, or a specific case in the court.

  • Judge Collins has been asked to preside over this case about racial discrimination in schools.
  • The entire board of directors is here to preside over this planning meeting for the next year, so be sure to get their input about what they want to do.

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Synonyms for Manage (verb meaning succeeding and/or surviving in the face of a difficulty)

9. To cope with something

If you need to cope with something, it means that it is some sort of challenge or difficulty. It means you deal with it and figure out how to survive something.

  • Janice has to cope with her mental illness every day, but she is making the most of the situation.
  • It is difficult if you have to work at odd hours through the night, but after a while you will learn to cope with it well.

10. To make do with

When you make do with something, you accept the resources that you have. You may not have as much as you would like, and usually do not have enough as much as your peers do, but you learn to work with you have.

Instead of complaining or wishing that you had more, you can thrive with what you have.

  • We did not meet our revenue goals for this month, so we will have to make do with the profits that we did make.
  • Kelly wanted to make a cake but did not have any milk, so she decided to make do with the soymilk instead; the cake turned out great!

11. To survive

If you survive, you are just waiting until the challenge is over. You try to figure out how you can pass the days, and focus on getting to the next day rather than actively seeking out new opportunities.

  • Before my first paycheck, I have to figure out how I will survive with the money that I have now.
  • Lance survived on his own after moving to a new country without knowing the local language or anyone there, but now he is thriving.

12. To deal with

To deal with something, such as a problem or person, means to overcome the challenges that it poses for you. This can refer to the process of managing it, or the implementation of a solution.

  • Brian had no idea how to approach the difficult conversation with his mother, so he asked his sister to deal with it for him.
  • When you have your own business, you have to deal with many different issues – such as business taxes, hiring and firing, and administrative tasks – that may take a while to get used to.

13. To scrape by/along

These two phrasal verbs are based on the imagery of someone scraping something – or trying to get the very last parts of something. If you scrape a can of soup, you use your spoon to get the last drops of soup on the sides of the can.

Similarly, to scrape by or scrape along means to barely manage to survive and get by. You do not have much margin for error.

  • Jane had been barely scraping by on the money that she earned as a freelance writer, until her book was picked up by a major publisher and became an instant best seller!
  • It may surprise you to see how many people have to scrape by every month on their income; the percentage is probably higher than you think.

14. To muddle through

To muddle through something means to go through it without really knowing how it works or how you can make the most of it. This can apply to a student who has not yet read the book, so he must guess the answers to the quiz.

Or, it can apply to a new employee who is asked to do things that they are not yet familiar with. Instead of asking for someone to hold their hand through the process, they try their best with what they know.

  • It may surprise you, but most people who work at Annie’s Pizza do not know what they are doing and are just muddling through their tasks.
  • Carl read the wrong chapter of the textbook last night, so he has to muddle through the quiz for today.

15. To fend for oneself

If you fend for yourself against a problem or enemy, you defend and protect yourself. This is usually the case when no one is there to help you.

Other people around you might look at you like a threat. In this case, you are left to fend for yourself and figure things out on your own.

  • My father wanted us to be independent growing up, so he would often drop us in the middle of the mall and tell us to fend for ourselves to get home.
  • On Theresa’s first day of work, her coworkers were all too busy to help her and she had to fend for herself.

16. To make ends meet

If you are having a lot of difficulty, especially financially, you struggle to make ends meet. This is the case for many people who have been let go from their job, or who have suddenly needed a large amount of money to cover different expenses.

In this case, they might have to take out an emergency loan or ask for a pay advance from their employer to make ends meet.

  • If you grow up with money, it is very difficult to imagine how hard it is to make ends meet when you only make minimum wage.
  • Camden makes only a tiny bit of money teaching English online and living in Thailand, but it is much easier to make ends meet when his expenses are very low.

17. To weather the storm

In nature, weathering happens when water or wind runs over solid rock and slowly breaks down the rock over time. It takes upwards of millions and even billions of years to create a noticeable change. In other words, the rock stays steady.

Similarly, if a person weathers a storm, they are able to withstand almost all the bad parts about the storm. They can prevent any damage to themselves and simply wait for the storm to pass. Then, they will be able to thrive again.

  • The company is not in a great position right now because our CEO just resigned, but we should be able to weather the storm in a couple months and recover quickly.
  • With the hurricane coming in the next few days, the weather report suggested that we evacuate inland, but we would rather weather the storm and stay in our house.

18. To get by

If you simply get by, it means that you survive, doing the bare minimum. You do not or cannot do anything that is beyond the minimum standards for whatever reason. There is no way to stand out, but you can do the best you can under the circumstances.

  • While Carina was studying for her MD degree, she always only had enough money to get by; she could not go out to fancy restaurants with her friends or travel with them.
  • Herbert was not a stand out student, and he always only did enough studying and worked hard enough to get by, rather than strive for the best test scores.

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