noun, plural men.
- a person or group asserting authority or power over another, especially in a manner experienced as being oppressive, demeaning, or threatening, as an employer, the police, or a dominating racial group.
- a person or group upon whom one is dependent, as the drug supplier for an addict.
verb (used with object), manned, man·ning.
- 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.
Origin of man1
Synonyms for man
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.
noun plural men (mɛn)
- 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
- a subordinate, servant, or employee contrasted with an employer or manager
- (in combination)the number of man-days required to complete a job
- without exceptionthey were slaughtered to a man
verb mans, manning or manned (tr)
Word Origin for man
noun the Man (sometimes not capital) US
Old English man, mann "human being, person (male or female); brave man, hero; servant, vassal," from Proto-Germanic *manwaz (cf. Old Saxon, Swedish, Dutch, Old High German man, German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Danish mand, Gothic manna "man"), from PIE root *man- (1) "man" (cf. Sanskrit manuh, Avestan manu-, Old Church Slavonic mozi, Russian muzh "man, male").
Plural men (German Männer) shows effects of i-mutation. Sometimes connected to root *men- "to think" (see mind), which would make the ground sense of man "one who has intelligence," but not all linguists accept this. Liberman, for instance, writes, "Most probably man 'human being' is a secularized divine name" from Mannus [cf. Tacitus, "Germania," chap. 2], "believed to be the progenitor of the human race."
So I am as he that seythe, `Come hyddr John, my man.' 
Sense of "adult male" is late (c.1000); Old English used wer and wif to distinguish the sexes, but wer began to disappear late 13c. and was replaced by man. Universal sense of the word remains in mankind and manslaughter. Similarly, Latin had homo "human being" and vir "adult male human being," but they merged in Vulgar Latin, with homo extended to both senses. A like evolution took place in Slavic languages, and in some of them the word has narrowed to mean "husband." PIE had two stems: *uiHro "freeman" (cf. Sanskrit vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Latin vir, Old Irish fer, Gothic wair) and *hner "man," a title more of honor than *uiHro (cf. Sanskrit nar-, Armenian ayr, Welsh ner, Greek aner).
MAN TRAP. A woman's commodity. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
Man also was in Old English as an indefinite pronoun, "one, people, they." The chess pieces so called from c.1400. As an interjection of surprise or emphasis, first recorded c.1400, but especially popular from early 20c. Man-about-town is from 1734; the Man "the boss" is from 1918. To be man or mouse "be brave or be timid" is from 1540s. Men's Liberation first attested 1970.
At the kinges court, my brother, Ech man for himself. [Chaucer, "Knight's Tale," c.1386]
Old English mannian "to furnish (a fort, ship, etc.) with a company of men," from man (n.). Meaning "to take up a designated position on a ship" is first recorded 1690s. Meaning "behave like a man, act with courage" is from c.1400. To man (something) out is from 1660s. Related: Manned; manning.
to a man
Unanimously, without exception, as in The committee voted against the proposal to a man. This expression, first recorded in 1712, uses man in the sense of “everyone.” It continues to be so used despite its sexist tone. To a woman is very occasionally used for unanimous actions in groups that include only women. Also see as one; with one voice.
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
- 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.