-man


a combining form of man1: layman; postman.

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usage note for -man

The use of -man as the last element in compounds referring to a person of either sex who performs some function ( anchorman; chairman; spokesman ) has declined a great deal in recent years. Only if the reference is to a specific male person are such compounds still widely used: Roy Johnston, Channel 83 news anchorman. Sometimes the sex-neutral -person is substituted for -man when the sex of the individual involved is unknown or irrelevant: anchorperson; chairperson; spokesperson. Often when a specific woman is involved, the suffix -woman is used: Doris Powell, Channel 83 news anchorwoman. And sometimes, when possible, a form with no suffix at all is used: Roy Johnston, Channel 83 news anchor.
All terms historically ending in -man that designate specific occupations ( foreman; mailman; policeman; repairman; etc.) were dropped in favor of sex-neutral terms in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor in 1977. DOT terms for the occupations listed above are supervisor, mail or letter carrier, police officer (or just officer ), repairer (as in radio repairer ). Many industries and business firms have adopted similar sex-neutral occupational titles.
One -man compound, freshman, is still the term generally used in high schools and colleges and in Congress, and it is applied to both sexes. As a modifier, the singular form freshman is used with both singular and plural nouns: a freshman athlete; freshman legislators. See also chairperson, man, -person, -woman.

Words nearby -man

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for -man

-man

n combining form

indicating a person who has a role, works in a place, or operates equipment as specifiedsalesman; barman; cameraman

usage for -man

The use of words ending in -man is avoided as implying a male in job advertisements, where sexual discrimination is illegal, and in many other contexts where a term that is not gender-specific is available, such as salesperson, barperson, camera operator
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012