|man (mn)|n. pl. men (mn)
1. An adult male human.
2. A human regardless of sex or age; a person.
3. A human or an adult male human belonging to a specific occupation, group, nationality, or other category. Often used in combination: a milkman; a congressman; a freeman.
4. The human race; mankind: mans quest for peace.
5. Zoology A member of the genus Homo, family Hominidae, order Primates, class Mammalia, characterized by erect posture and an opposable thumb, especially a member of the only extant species, Homo sapiens, distinguished by a highly developed brain, the capacity for abstract reasoning, and the ability to communicate by means of organized speech and record information in a variety of symbolic systems.
6. A male human endowed with qualities, such as strength, considered characteristic of manhood.
a. A husband.
b. A male lover or sweetheart.
b. Enlisted personnel of the armed forces: officers and men.
9. A male representative, as of a country or company: our man in Tokyo.
10. A male servant or subordinate.
11. Informal Used as a familiar form of address for a man: See here, my good man!
12. One who swore allegiance to a lord in the Middle Ages; a vassal.
13. Games Any of the pieces used in a board game, such as chess or checkers.
14. Nautical A ship. Often used in combination: a merchantman; a man-of-war.
often Man Slang
A person or group felt to be in a position of power or authority. Used with the
: Their writing mainly concerns the street lifethe pimp, the junky, the forces of drug addiction, exploitation at the hands of the man (Black World).
1. To supply with men, as for defense or service: man a ship.
2. To take stations at, as to defend or operate: manned the guns.
3. To fortify or brace: manned himself for the battle ahead.
Used as an expletive to indicate intense feeling: Man! That was close.
as one man
1. In complete agreement; unanimously.
2. With no exception: They objected as one man.
ones own man
Independent in judgment and action.
to a man
Without exception: All were lost, to a man.
[Middle English, from Old English mann; see man-1 in Indo-European roots.]
Traditionally, many writers have used man
and words derived from it to designate any or all of the human race regardless of sex. In fact, this is the oldest use of the word. In Old English the principal sense of man
was a human, and the words wer
) were used to refer to a male human and a female human respectively. But in Middle English man
as the term for a male human, while wyfman
(which evolved into present-day woman
) was retained for a female human. Despite this change, man
continued to carry its original sense of a human as well, resulting in an asymmetrical arrangement that many criticize as sexist. · Nonetheless, a majority of the Usage Panel still accepts the generic use of man,
although the women members have significantly less enthusiasm for this usage than the men do. For example, the sentence If early man suffered from a lack of information, modern man is tyrannized by an excess of it
is acceptable to 81 percent of the Panel
but a breakdown by sex shows that only 58 percent of the women Panelists accept it, while 92 percent of the men do. A majority of the Panel also accepts compound words derived from generic man.
The sentence The Great Wall is the only man-made structure visible from space
is acceptable to 86 percent (76 percent of the women and 91 percent of the men). The sentence The history of language is the history of mankind
(James Bradstreet Greenough and George Lyman Kittredge) is acceptable to 76 percent (63 percent of the women and 82 percent of the men). The Panel finds such compounds less acceptable when applied to women, however; only 66 percent of the Panel members (57 percent of the women and 71 percent of the men) accept the use of the word manpower
in the sentence Countries that do not permit women to participate in the work force are at a disadvantage in competing with those that do avail themselves of that extra source of manpower.
· Similar controversy surrounds the generic use of -man
compounds to indicate occupational and social roles. Thus the use of chairman
in the sentence The chairman will be appointed by the Faculty Senate
is acceptable to 67 percent of the Panel (52 percent of the women and 76 percent of the men). Approval rates fall much further, however, for -man
compounds applied to women. Only 48 percent (43 percent of the women and 50 percent of the men) accept the use of the word in Emily Owen, chairman of the Mayors Task Force, issued a statement assuring residents that their views would be solicited.
A majority of the Panelists also rejects the verb man
when used to refer to an activity performed by women. Fifty-six percent of the Panel (61 percent of the women and 54 percent of the men) disapprove of the sentence Members of the League of Women Voters will be manning the registration desk.
See Usage Notes at -ess