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Noun. From Middle English man, from Old English mann m (human being, person, man), from Proto-West Germanic *mann, from Proto-Germanic *mann- m (human being, man), from Proto-Indo-European *mon- or *men-. Alternatively, Kroonen favors the word splitting off from Proto-Indo-European *(dʰ)ǵʰmō, *(dʰ)ǵʰmon- in the cases where the -m- wasn’t syllabic (which otherwise gave *gum-, see *gumô), the initial cluster would have been unpronounceable in Germanic, giving a reduced *(-)man-, from *dʰéǵʰōm (earth) +‎ *-ō the initial *dʰ is regularly dropped in such a cluster.

Doublet of Manu.

Verb. From Middle English mannen, from Old English mannianġemannian (to man, supply with men, populate, garrison), from mann (human being, man), see above from Proto-West-Germanic. Cognate with Dutch bemannen (to man)German bemannen (to man)Swedish bemanna (to man)Icelandic manna (to supply with men, man).


  • (Received Pronunciation, General American) IPA(key)/mæn/
  • (æ-tensing) IPA(key)[mɛən][meən][mẽə̃n]
  • (Jamaica) IPA(key)[mɑn]
  • (General New Zealand, parts of South Africa) IPA(key)[mɛn]


man (plural men)

  1. An adult male human.
    The show is especially popular with middle-aged men.
  2. (collective) All human males collectively: mankind.
  3. human, a person regardless of gender, usually an adult. (See usage notes.)
    every man for himself
  4. (collective) All humans collectively: mankind, humankind, humanity. (Sometimes capitalized as Man.)
  5. (anthropology, archaeology, paleontology) A member of the genus Homo, especially of the species Homo sapiens.
  6. A male person, usually an adult; a (generally adult male) sentient being, whether human, supernatural, elf, alien, etc.
  7. An adult male who has, to an eminent degree, qualities considered masculine, such as strength, integrity, and devotion to family; a mensch.
  8. (uncountable, obsolete, uncommon) Manliness; the quality or state of being manly.
  9. A husband.
  10. A lover; a boyfriend.
  11. A male enthusiast or devotee; a male who is very fond of or devoted to a specified kind of thing. (Used as the last element of a compound.)
    Some people prefer apple pie, but me, I’m a cherry pie man.
  12. A person, usually male, who has duties or skills associated with a specified thing. (Used as the last element of a compound.)
    I wanted to be a guitar man on a road tour, but instead I’m a flag man on a road crew.
  13. A person, usually male, who can fulfill one’s requirements with regard to a specified matter.
  14. A male who belongs to a particular group: an employee, a student or alumnus, a representative, etc.
  15. An adult male servant.
  16. (historical) A vassal; a subject.
    Like master, like man.

    (old proverb)

    all the king’s men
  17. A piece or token used in board games such as chess.
  18. (MLE, slang) Used to refer to oneself or one’s group: I, we; construed in the third person.
  19. A term of familiar address often implying on the part of the speaker some degree of authority, impatience, or haste.
    Come on, man, we’ve got no time to lose!
  20. A friendly term of address usually reserved for other adult males.
    Hey, man, how’s it goin’?
  21. (sports) A player on whom another is playing, with the intent of limiting their attacking impact.


man (third-person singular simple present manspresent participle manningsimple past and past participle manned)

  1. (transitive) To supply (something) with staff or crew (of either sex).
     The ship was manned with a small crew.
  2. (transitive) To take up position in order to operate (something).
     Man the machine guns!
  3. (reflexive, possibly dated) To brace (oneself), to fortify or steel (oneself) in a manly way. (Compare man up.)
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To wait on, attend to, or escort.
  5. (transitive, obsolete, chiefly falconry) To accustom (a raptor or other type of bird) to the presence of people.

Usage notes

  • The use of “man” (compare Old English: mannwerwīf) to mean both “human (of any gender)” and “adult male”, which developed after Old English’s distinct term for the latter (wer) fell out of use, has been criticized since at least the second half of the twentieth century. Critics claim that the use of “man”, both alone and in compounds, to denote a human or any gender “is now often regarded as sexist or at best old-fashioned”, “flatly discriminatory in that it slights or ignores the membership of women in the human race”. The American Heritage Dictionary wrote that in 2004 75-79% of their usage panel still accepted sentences with generic man, and 86-87% accepted sentences with man-made. Some style guides recommend against generic “man”, and “although some editors and writers reject or disregard […] objections to man as a generic, many now choose instead to use” humanhuman being or person instead.
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