[ man ]
See synonyms for man on
noun,plural men [men]. /mɛn/.
  1. an adult male person. : Compare woman (def. 1), boy (def. 1).

  2. a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to gender: The gravesite gives us valuable information about the burial practices of prehistoric man.

  1. the human individual as representing the species, without reference to gender; the human race; humankind: Man hopes for peace, but prepares for war.

  2. a human being; person: to give a man a chance; When the audience smelled the smoke, it was every man for himself.

  3. a husband: I now pronounce you man and wife.

  4. a male lover or sweetheart.

  5. a male follower or subordinate: the king's men; He's the boss's number one man.

  6. a male employee or representative, especially of a company or agency: a Secret Service man; a man from the utility company.

  7. a male having qualities considered typical of men or appropriately masculine: Be a man. The army will make a man of you.

  8. a male servant.

  9. a valet: He asked his man to prepare a valise for the weekend.

  10. an enthusiast or devotee: I like jazz, but I'm essentially a classics man.

  11. Slang. a male friend or ally: You're my main man.

  12. a term of familiar address to a man; fellow: Now, now, my good man, please calm down.

  13. Slang. a term of familiar address to a man or a woman: Hey, man, how's it going?

  14. one of the figures, disks, etc., used in playing certain games, as chess or checkers: You can move your men each turn diagonally forward, to the left or to the right.

  15. the man or the Man ,Slang.

    • a person or group asserting authority or power over another, especially in a manner experienced as being oppressive, demeaning, or threatening, as the government, an employer, or the police.

    • a privileged racial group, especially when exerting a dominating social, cultural, or economic influence.

    • Sometimes da man . a person of impressive accomplishment; one who excels.

    • a drug dealer.

  16. Obsolete. manly character or courage.

  17. History/Historical. a liegeman; vassal.

verb (used with object),manned, man·ning.
  1. to furnish with people, as for service or defense: No matter how complicated war might be, it always comes down to the ones who fly the planes, man the ships, and carry the rifles.

  2. to take one's place at, as for service: to man the ramparts;to man the phones.

  1. to strengthen, fortify, or brace; steel: They took a moment to man themselves for the dangers ahead.

  2. Falconry. to accustom (a hawk) to the presence of people.

  1. Slang. an expression of surprise, enthusiasm, dismay, or other strong feeling: Man, what a ball game!

Verb Phrases
  1. man up, Informal. to act in a typically masculine way, as in taking responsibility or making tough decisions: He should man up and meet the challenge.

Idioms about man

  1. as one man, in complete agreement or accord; unanimously: They arose as one man to protest the verdict.

  2. be one's own man,

    • to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence; be independent: Now that he has a business he is his own man.

    • to be in complete command of one's faculties: After a refreshing nap he was again his own man.

  1. man and boy, ever since childhood: He's been working that farm, man and boy, for more than 50 years.

  2. man's man, a man who exemplifies masculine qualities.

  3. to a man, with no exception; everyone; all: To a man, the members of the team did their best.

Origin of man

First recorded before 900; Middle English “human being, person, mankind, adult male, husband,” Old English man(n) “human being, person, servant, vassal”; cognate with German Mann, Dutch man, Old Norse mathr, Gothic manna; akin to Sanskrit mánu- “human being, man,” Polish mąż “husband,” Russian muzh “man, husband”; see also muzhik

synonym study For man

Man, male, gentleman are nouns referring to an adult male human being, one paradigm of gender and biological sex. Man is the most general and most commonly used of the three; it can be neutral, lacking either favorable or unfavorable implication: a wealthy man; a man of strong character, of unbridled appetites. It can also signify possession of the most typical or traditional masculine qualities: to take one's punishment like a man. Male emphasizes the physical or sexual characteristics of a man; it may also refer to an animal or plant: a male in his prime; two males and three females in the pack; a male of the genus Ilex. In scientific and statistical use, male is the neutral contrastive term to female : 104 females to every 100 males; Among birds, the male is often more colorful than the female. Gentleman, once used only of men of high social rank, now also specifies a man of courtesy and consideration: a real gentleman; to behave like a gentleman. Gentleman is also used as a polite term of reference ( This gentleman is waiting for a table ) or, only in the plural, of address ( Are we ready to begin, gentlemen? ). See also manly, male.

usage note For man

The use of man1 to mean “human being,” both alone and in compounds such as mankind, has met with objection in recent years, and the use is declining. The objection is based on the idea that man is most commonly used as an exclusive, gender-marked noun meaning “male human being.” Critics of the use of man as a generic maintain that it is sometimes ambiguous when the wider sense is intended ( Man has built magnificent civilizations in the desert ), but more often flatly discriminatory in that it slights or ignores the membership of women in the human race: The man in the street wants peace, not war.
Although some editors and writers reject or disregard these objections to man as a generic, many now choose instead to use such terms as human being ( s ), human race, humankind, people, or, when called for by style or context, women and men or men and women. See also -man, -person, -woman.

Other words from man

  • man·less, adjective
  • man·less·ly, adverb
  • man·less·ness, noun
  • man·ness, noun

Words Nearby man

Other definitions for Man (2 of 5)

[ man ]

  1. Isle of, an island of the British Isles, in the Irish Sea. 227 sq. mi. (588 sq. km). Capital: Douglas.

Other definitions for -man (3 of 5)


  1. a combining form of man: layman; postman.

usage note For -man

The sex-neutral use of -man as the last element in compounds referring to a person who performs some function ( anchorman; chairman; spokesman ) has declined a great deal in recent years. If the reference is to a specific male person, the male form is often, but not always, used: Roy Johnston, Channel 83 news anchorman. In many instances, the sex-neutral -person is substituted for -man when the sex of the individual involved is unknown or irrelevant: anchorperson; chairperson; spokesperson. 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 all first-year students regardless of their sex. 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.

Other definitions for man. (4 of 5)


  1. manual.

Other definitions for Man. (5 of 5)


  1. Manila.

  2. Manitoba. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use man in a sentence

  • Davy looked around and saw an old man coming toward them across the lawn.

    Davy and The Goblin | Charles E. Carryl
  • The supernaturalist alleges that religion was revealed to man by God, and that the form of this revelation is a sacred book.

    God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
  • The most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them.

  • He remembered something—the cherished pose of being a man plunged fathoms-deep in business.

    St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini
  • On the thirteenth of the same month they bound to the stake, in order to burn alive, a man who had two religious in his house.

British Dictionary definitions for man (1 of 4)


/ (mæn) /

nounplural men (mɛn)
  1. an adult male human being, as distinguished from a woman

  2. (modifier) male; masculine: a man child

  1. archaic a human being regardless of sex or age, considered as a representative of mankind; a person

  2. (sometimes capital) human beings collectively; mankind: the development of man

  3. Also called: modern man

    • a member of any of the living races of Homo sapiens, characterized by erect bipedal posture, a highly developed brain, and powers of articulate speech, abstract reasoning, and imagination

    • any extinct member of the species Homo sapiens, such as Cro-Magnon man

  4. a member of any of the extinct species of the genus Homo, such as Java man, Heidelberg man, and Solo man

  5. an adult male human being with qualities associated with the male, such as courage or virility: be a man

  6. manly qualities or virtues: the man in him was outraged

    • a subordinate, servant, or employee contrasted with an employer or manager

    • (in combination): the number of man-days required to complete a job

  7. (usually plural) a member of the armed forces who does not hold commissioned, warrant, or noncommissioned rank (as in the phrase officers and men)

  8. a member of a group, team, etc

  9. a husband, boyfriend, etc: man and wife

  10. an expression used parenthetically to indicate an informal relationship between speaker and hearer

  11. a movable piece in various games, such as draughts

  12. Southern African slang any person: used as a term of address

  13. a vassal of a feudal lord

  14. as one man with unanimous action or response

  15. be one's own man to be independent or free

  16. he's your man he's the person needed (for a particular task, role, job, etc)

  17. man and boy from childhood

  18. sort out the men from the boys or separate the men from the boys to separate the experienced from the inexperienced

  19. to a man

    • unanimously

    • without exception: they were slaughtered to a man

  1. informal an exclamation or expletive, often indicating surprise or pleasure

verbmans, manning or manned (tr)
  1. to provide with sufficient people for operation, defence, etc: to man the phones

  2. to take one's place at or near in readiness for action

  1. falconry to induce (a hawk or falcon) to endure the presence of and handling by man, esp strangers

Origin of man

Old English mann; related to Old Frisian man, Old High German man, Dutch man, Icelandic mathr

usage For man

The use of man to mean human beings in general is often considered sexist. Gender-neutral alternatives include human beings, people and humankind . The verb to man can also often be replaced by to staff, to operate and related words

Derived forms of man

  • manless, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Man (2 of 4)


/ (mæn) /

nounthe Man (sometimes not capital) US
  1. Black slang a White man or White men collectively, esp when in authority, in the police, or held in contempt

  2. slang a drug peddler

British Dictionary definitions for Man (3 of 4)


/ (mæn) /

  1. Isle of Man an island in the British Isles, in the Irish Sea between Cumbria and Northern Ireland: a UK Crown Dependency (but not part of the United Kingdom), with its own ancient parliament, the Court of Tynwald; a dependency of Norway until 1266, when for a time it came under Scottish rule; its own language, Manx, became extinct in the 19th century but has been revived to some extent. Capital: Douglas. Pop: 86 159 (2013 est). Area: 588 sq km (227 sq miles)

British Dictionary definitions for -man (4 of 4)


n combining form
  1. indicating a person who has a role, works in a place, or operates equipment as specified: salesman; 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with man


In addition to the idioms beginning with man

  • man about town
  • man in the street
  • man of few words
  • man of his word
  • man of the moment
  • man of the world
  • many a
  • many hands make light work
  • many happy returns
  • many is the

also see:

  • as one (man)
  • company man
  • dead soldier (man)
  • dirty joke (old man)
  • every man for himself
  • every man has his price
  • girl (man) Friday
  • hatchet man
  • hired hand (man)
  • ladies' man
  • low man on the totem pole
  • marked man
  • new person (man)
  • no man is an island
  • odd man out
  • (man) of few words
  • one man's meat is another man's poison
  • own man
  • right-hand man
  • see a man about a dog
  • to a man

Also see undermen.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.