adjective, man·li·er, man·li·est.

having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength or bravery.
pertaining to or suitable for males: manly sports.


Archaic. in a manly manner.

Origin of manly

before 900; Middle English (adj., adv.); Old English manlīc (adj.), manlīce (adv.). See man1, -ly
Related formsman·li·ness, noun

Synonyms for manly

Manly, manful, mannish mean having the traits or qualities that a culture regards as especially characteristic of or ideally appropriate to adult men. Manly is usually a term of approval, suggesting traits admired by society, such as determination, decisiveness, and steadiness: a manly acceptance of the facts; manly firmness of character. Manful, also a term of approval, stresses qualities such as courage, strength, and fortitude: a manful effort to overcome great odds. Mannish is most often used derogatorily in reference to the traits, manners, or accouterments of a woman that are thought to be more appropriate to or typical of a man: a mannish abruptness in her speech; She wore a severely mannish suit. See also male.

Antonyms for manly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for manly

Contemporary Examples of manly

Historical Examples of manly

  • "I'll do it, sir," said I to the Mayor, with a manly curtness.

  • Therefore, after a moment's consideration, he spoke up, with a firm and manly voice.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • This appeal to manly protection was received by Stevie with his usual docility.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • We had hauled our manly tacks aboard, and had no thoughts of plunder.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • The bridegroom's frank and manly countenance was radiant with joy.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

British Dictionary definitions for manly


adjective -lier or -liest

possessing qualities, such as vigour or courage, generally regarded as appropriate to or typical of a man; masculine
characteristic of or befitting a mana manly sport
Derived Formsmanliness, noun
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 manly

c.1200, "human; characteristic of human beings," from man (n.) + -ly (1). Sense of "possessing virtues proper to a male person" (resoluteness, steadfastness, reliability) is from early 13c. Meaning "masculine" is attested from late 14c. Old English had werlic "male, masculine, manly."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper