Meaning of 執る

At level 37 we’re taught 執る with the primary meaning “To Take Control” and secondary meaning “To Carry Out” but these definitions are not really those I find in various dictionaries.

Jisho has:

to take (trouble); to attend (to business); to command (army)​

Wiktionary gives:

[verb] 執る: to do (work), to perform (duties), to take (trouble)
[verb] 執る: to take the command

The “to perform (duties)” does overlap with the secondary WK meaning, but I thought that “to take control” is pretty misleading because originally I took it in a more literal sense such as taking control of a position during a battle whereas from what I can see this is more about “taking command” as shown in these definitions.

I only noticed this discrepancy because I just encountered this verb in the wild for the first time and I couldn’t make sense of the sentence based on the meaning taught by WK.

So basically all that to say that I think it would be a little less ambiguous if the main meaning was “to take command” instead of “to take control”.

Keep in mind that I’m not a native English speaker so maybe it’s just my understanding of “to take control” that’s flawed.

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By the way the sentence I encountered in the wild that made me question these meanings was this one (the context is that a military school is preparing for battle):


Obviously 他の生徒の指揮を執る means “to take command of the other students” or perhaps more idiomatically “to lead the other students” but originally I couldn’t quite make sense of it because I translated “to take control of the command of the other students” or something like that which was a bit meaningless and also confusing because it seemed to imply that they weren’t “under control” up until this point, which didn’t make sense.

Goo seems to suggest it’s one of several ways of writing とる:

It does list something akin to “to carry out” with 執る specifically:


And also something I could construe as taking control, but without specifying any specific writing:

手に持って動かす。手を働かして何かをする。操作する。「舵 (かじ) を―・る」

My first thought when something says “to take control” is taking control of a situation, or a machine, or something like that. I’ll be honest, taking control of a position is not something that occurred to me - but I guess it’s similar in meaning so it might fit too. The operative part being, you decide what happens.

I think this might be some confusion caused by a combination of Jisho (and by extension JMDict I think?) having a strangely restrictive set of definitions and possibly you seeing the term “to take control” mostly in specific contexts - my first guess would be video games, something like a king of the hill game mode where teams take control of an objective and need to hold it for as long as possible.

That said, at least adding “to take command” as an alternative definition might be good? It could remove some confusion about what kind of control is meant, at least.


It might be more accurate to write it as something like “to take (control)” but I never thought of it as a “discrepancy.”

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