[man-uh v-wawr]

noun, plural men-of-war.

Origin of man-of-war

1400–50 in sense “soldier”; late Middle English Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for man-of-war

Historical Examples of man-of-war

  • The Americans exulted at the failure of the man-of-war's man, and the English doubted.

    Homeward Bound

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • It is, in short, the man-of-war that was in St. Blas when we left there.

    An Old Sailor's Yarns

    Nathaniel Ames

  • Once, I remember, we came upon a man-of-war anchored off the coast.

    Heart of Darkness

    Joseph Conrad

  • Then all the guns were fakes, and the whole business of a man-of-war as well?

    The Harbor of Doubt

    Frank Williams

  • Carlos came to the side, and looked after the man-of-war in the distance.


    Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer

British Dictionary definitions for man-of-war


man o' war

noun plural men-of-war or men o' war

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

Word Origin and History for man-of-war

late 14c., "a soldier," from man (n.) + war. Meaning "vessel equipped for warfare" is from late 15c. Man in the sense of "a ship" is attested from late 15c. in combinations (e.g. merchantman). The sea creature known as the Portuguese man-of-war (1707) is so called for its sail-like crest.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper