[ man-lee ]
/ 藞m忙n li /
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See synonyms for: manly / manliness on Thesaurus.com

adjective, man路li路er, man路li路est.
having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength or bravery.
pertaining to or suitable for males: manly sports.
Archaic. in a manly manner.
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Origin of manly

before 900; Middle English (adj., adv.); Old English manl墨c (adj.), manl墨ce (adv.). See man, -ly

synonym study 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.


man路li路ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2023


What does manly mean?

Manly means having qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage or strength.

Manly is typically used to describe a man who has qualities (or who display qualities) that are generally considered to be characteristic of a man or manhood, as in He was dressed as a manly lumberjack with a thick beard and big muscles.聽

It can also be used to describe things that involve, are intended for, are popular among, or are thought to be appropriate for men, as in My grandfather enjoyed manly hobbies like hunting.

Of course, all of these associations are based on gender stereotypes that are often sexist and exclusionary. Manly implies qualities, attributes, and interests that are not exclusive to men, and that do not apply to every man. Anyone can be courageous and strong. Anyone can be good at and enjoy sports or outdoor activities. For these reasons, many people avoid using adjectives like manly and object to their use.

Example: He calls himself a manly man who enjoys manly things like powerlifting and beef stew.

Where does manly come from?

The first records of the word manly come from before 900. The adjective -ly is often used to form adverbs, but it is used here to form an adjective. It means 鈥渉aving the qualities of,鈥 making manly mean 鈥渉aving the qualities a man.鈥

When used to describe males, manly is nearly always used positively to indicate that they have desirable traits or qualities. When it鈥檚 used to describe a woman, however, manly is more often used to accuse her of 鈥渁cting like a man鈥 or having the traits of a man, implying that this is a bad thing.

The word mannish is also used this way. Words like this are based on society鈥檚 concept of gender roles, which are ingrained stereotypes not tied to biology but instead based on traditional notions of how men and women should act.

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What are some other forms related to manly?

  • manliness (noun)

What are some synonyms for manly?

What are some words that share a root or word element with manly?聽

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How to use manly in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for manly

/ (藞m忙nl瑟) /

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 forms of manly

manliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012