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Thread: undermanned

  1. #1
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    Default undermanned

    Hi,

    I have a question about this word-undermanned, what exactly does this word mean?

    I went online to look it up, the word, undermanned = understaffed.
    But, the dictionary (Oxford) I use tells me, undermanned means: not having enough people working in order to able to function well. understaffed means: not having enough people working and therefore not able to function well.

    I am little confused, since these two words have the same meaning, is there something wrong with dictionary I use? what exactly does "undermanned" mean?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: undermanned

    Both words refer to not having enough workers to do some job effectively.

    'staff' as a noun refers to all the people employed by a particular organization, and so, in regular employment with that organization.

    'man' as a verb -'to man' - refers to providing the personnel to run or operate something, or defend something. So when a ship sinks, the order goes out for the crew (the 'staff' of the ship) to 'man the lifeboats' : for crew members to get into and operate the lifeboats.

    So, a fire station may have a large staff/crew of firemen. However, say some of them are off sick with flu and can't make their shift; then that night, the fire station is 'undermanned' - they don't have the right number of firemen working that they should have in case all the machines are needed to fight a fire.
    However, if this was the regular situation- they need 20 firemen to cover the five fire engines they have, but only employ 15 men, then they are 'understaffed' and need to recruit more staff to work there regularly.
    Last edited by David L.; 26-Jul-2008 at 07:47.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: undermanned

    [quote=David L.;326034]Both words refer to not having enough workers to do some job effectively.

    Hi, David L.

    Thanks for your help.

    Okay, I get it. So do you think the definition of "undermanned" from the Oxford dictionary is right ? (undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.)

    It says-in order to be able to function well, according to this definition, which just makes me get this word (undermanned) like, for instance, the leaders of the fire department decide to cut some useless firemen in order to help promote the organization's development in the future. In this case, I think I will use this word, undermanned. After those useless firemen are dismissed, I will say, right now our organization is undermanned, not having enough people , the propose is in order to be able to function well. (in order to help promote the organization's development in the future)

    Yes, under the definition offered by Oxford dictionary, I will understand "undermanned" like that... So, I think Oxford dictionary defines "undermanned" in a wrong way, it should say, like the definition for "understaffed", not having enough people working and therefore not be able to function well.

    So what is your opinion?


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    Default Re: undermanned

    Okay, I get it. So do you think the definition of "undermanned" from the Oxford dictionary is right ? (undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.)
    Yes, I do ...and just as well for me that we do agree: the Oxford Dictionary is the authority!

    It says-in order to be able to function well, according to this definition, which just makes me get this word (undermanned) like, for instance, the leaders of the fire department decide to cut some useless firemen in order to help promote the organization's development in the future. In this case, I think I will use this word, undermanned. After those useless firemen are dismissed, I will say, right now our organization is undermanned, not having enough people , the propose is in order to be able to function well. (in order to help promote the organization's development in the future)

    WOW. Here goes.
    It must have been decided right at the start how many men were needed to run the fire station effectively. What you then suggest is, that some of them are good workers, and some are no good at the job and so are sacked for the good of the department and perhaps safety reasons and being effective when they are fighting fires. Until they are replaced so that the fire station has a full complement of staff, they are 'understaffed'. And each time they go out to fight a fire with fewer men than they should have, they are 'undermanned'.

  5. #5
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: undermanned

    My understanding of 'to man' is to attend/to guard/to provide the frontline services of an organization.

    'To staff' covers the whole range of functions/components of a company which include management, production, backstage support, etc, that is, it is all all-inclusive.

    So, you don't say 'the management of the company is undermanned' but you say 'the reception at the hotel in manned 24 hours' or 'there are full-time staff to man the exhibits in the museum'.

    not a teacher

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    Default Re: undermanned

    [quote=David L.;326606]Okay, I get it. So do you think the definition of "undermanned" from the Oxford dictionary is right ? (undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.)
    Yes, I do ...and just as well for me that we do agree: the Oxford Dictionary is the authority!

    Hello, David L.

    I still can not get "undermanned" in a right way with definition offered by Oxford Dictionary.

    But I do easily understand this word with the definition from those online dictionary, like va=undermanned - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, or undermanned - Wiktionary, etc.
    All the definition from the online dictionaries show me to the point that " "undermanned" is equivalent to "understaffed", in other word, that they are SYNs, which means I can interchange them in the same case, right?.

    The oxford dictionay I use also does this, I mean, it also tells me that these two word are SYNs, but the part confusing me is that not having enough people working in order to be able to function well. If it only tells me-not having enough people working. I think I will definitely get this word in a right way, but the other part- in order to be able to function well. ???

    Let us take a look at the definition again,
    undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.
    understaffed: not having enough people working and therefore not be able to function well.
    The fist one tell me-to be able to function well, and the second one tells me-not to be able to function well. My question is, since these two words are SYNs, the definition of these two words are also SYNs ? I can not get them as SYNs according to the definition.

    Of course, I have already gotten these two words from the explanation offered by you and those online dictionary, but, with the one from Oxford, I do not think so. Just, confused....


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    Default Re: undermanned

    undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.
    understaffed: not having enough people working and therefore not be able to function well.


    Let's add a couple of words to each definition:

    understaffed: not having enough people working in an organization and therefore (permanently) not be able to function well.

    undermanned: not having enough people working front of house in the theatre TONIGHT in order to be able to function well.
    (But we hope all our staff will be able to work tomorrow night.)

    The Merriam-Wesbster Dictionary gives you a TWO WORD definition of 'undermanned' with no examples: 'inadequately staffed'

    The staff of an organization is the full complement of its employees. These employees work in different sections. These staff therefore 'man' these sections, and if staff in a section are off sick, then that section is 'undermanned' until they all return to work. BUT the company is not understaffed - they have all the employees they require. It is just that with some staff members away, a section could not be adequately 'manned'.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: undermanned

    No one has so far mentioned the issue of Political Correctness. I don't have the necessary dictionaries to hand, but I'd be pretty surprised to find that 'understaffed' was older than 'undermanned'. It was widely adopted because it protected the user from a knock on the door from the Thought Police!

    Starting in the '60s and '70s, constructions using the innocuous '-man' were quietly expunged from the language by misguided zealots; to take your example of 'firemen', you won't find an official document using that 'unword'; they are now 'firefighters'. Dustmen are 'household waste disposal operatives'. There used to be a useful distinction between 'undermanned' [not having enough people to do the work required] and 'understaffed' [not having enough people in the organization to respond in the traditional way to traditional requirements]. In labour disputes, the management negotiator could say 'you're not undermanned, you're just understaffed; you need to change the way you work, so that present manning levels are sufficient'. If one side of a conversation is using the words interchangeably, it is not surprising if communications break down.

    b

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    Default Re: undermanned

    [quote=David L.;326802]undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.
    understaffed: not having enough people working and therefore not be able to function well.

    Let's add a couple of words to each definition:


    Hello, David L.

    I know what undermanned means and how to use it.

    The part I do not work it out is the definition of "undermanned" offered Oxford dictionary. undermanned: not having enough people working in order to be able to function well.

    May be I know where confuses me with this definition. Okay. What exactly does this definition mean? The most important point is what does the phrase "in order to" mean in this one? My understanding with this definition is-not having enough poeple working, so we will be able to function well. I know my understanding is definitely wrong, but with this definition above, I do think in this wrong way.
    So my problem is clear that I get this definition in an incorrect way...

    So, I was wondering if you could tell me the meaning of this phrase " in order to " in this definition ?

    Thanks a lot.

    Last edited by XINLAI-UE; 29-Jul-2008 at 06:05.

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