Verbs: mandate

One of the news stories in our publication today used a familiar verb in an unfamiliar way (unfamiliar to me, at least). The clause that included the verb in question went something like this:

The EU directive mandated ongoing training

I was familiar with 'mandate' meaning "give (someone) authority to act in a certain way" (Concise OED, first sense given); I wasn't familiar with it meaning "make mandatory" (Concise OED, second sense given), which is obviously how it applies in the clause above.

Assuming that others might be thrown by this use of 'mandate', I recast the sentence along the lines of "The EU directive made ongoing training mandatory". But was that necessary or advisable? What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Here in the U.S., it's not common but it isn't an error. Lawyers [solicitors] or court reporters may have originally verbed the noun. To me, it has a connotation of judgment as in "The judge mandated school desegregation."

Anonymous said...

RP, I don't know why I never thought of it as having the connotation of judgment, but I took a look at the actual meaning and I think I'd agree with you.

I've encountered "to mandate" a lot in my time working in the not-for-profit sector and have always thought it was annoying nonprofit-speak. It's usually a much stronger word than needed, but it does tend to pack a punch when used.

TootsNYC said...

I've never heard (read?) "mandate" meaning "to give someone authority.

well, as a noun, I guess--a candidates wins a mandate. The CEO gave someone a mandate to reorganize the department (though that would come w/ a connotation of almost being ordered to do so). In fact, if a candidate wins a mandate, I think of that as meaning that he's almost been given orders to do the things he promised during the campaign; there's an expectation that he'll deliver, and that he'll be supported strongly when he attempts to do so.

But I wouldn't be confused w/ "mandate" meaning "to make mandatory."

In fact, I'm now realizing, the "mandatory/required" meaning has tinged the "to have a mandate" meaning. For me.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

I'd agree that using 'mandate' as a verb (in any sense) seems less common than using it as a noun.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I think the only verbal use I know is the "make mandatory".

Anonymous said...

Mandate is a noun. It has been corrupted as a verb to use instead of require.

Anonymous said...

From Mirriam-Webster Dictionary

man·date (transitive verb) \ˈman-ˌdāt\
man·dat·ed man·dat·ing
Definition of MANDATE

1: to administer or assign (as a territory) under a mandate
2: to officially require (something) : make (something) mandatory : order --a law mandating recycling; also : to direct or require (someone) to do something --a commission mandated to investigate corruption

Examples of MANDATE
The law mandates that every car have seat belts.
He won the election so convincingly that he believed the people had mandated him to carry out his policies.
The carbon prices on the European exchanges are higher precisely because the allowances for carbon emissions are mandated by government. —Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006