Administer v. Administrate

This is another post in my correction and clarification series. This case, in particular, drives me crazy, because not only is it wrong, it sounds wrong.

I hear or read often about someone who administrates a system or process. I fully understand the reason why people might use the term, and I know they’ll find it in the dictionary. But it’s not correct.

An administrator must administrate, no? No. And administrator administers, or is responsible for administration. I think people prefer something shorter than the latter, but don’t like the sound of the former. A nurse or a doctor administers treatment for a patient, but a systems analyst doesn’t administer the database.

So the systems analyst must administrate the database. Wrong. The systems analyst is responsible for database administration, or simply is responsible for the database, or even manages the database.

I realize the temptation to use similar words to describe ideas (administrator, administration, administrate), but other, simpler words exist that do as good a job.