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[man-lee] /ˈmæn li/
adjective, manlier, manliest.
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 forms
manliness, noun
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.
1. weak, cowardly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for manliest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A cry, which heard, even at noon day, seldom fails to blanch the manliest cheek.

    The World Before Them Susanna Moodie
  • There was once a King, and he had a Queen; and he was the manliest of his sex, and she was the loveliest of hers.

    The Magic Fishbone Charles Dickens
  • His beauty—of the manliest type—gave her a pleasant sensation—she was an artist, remember—but the next moment she recognized him.

    Wild Margaret Geraldine Fleming
  • The honor of a scout will not permit of anything but the highest and the best and the manliest.

    Boy Scouts Handbook Boy Scouts of America
  • We know nothing of his sons except Nanteguas, "the most manliest, comliest, boldest spirit" ever seen in "a savage."

  • He looks like a glad thankful child, and he has the manliest of faces.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete George Meredith
  • Power, intellect, and courage were stamped on face and figure, making him the manliest man that Sylvia had ever seen.

    Moods Louisa May Alcott
  • Charles went around and stood by her side in his manliest pose.

British Dictionary definitions for manliest


adjective -lier, -liest
possessing qualities, such as vigour or courage, generally regarded as appropriate to or typical of a man; masculine
characteristic of or befitting a man: a manly sport
Derived Forms
manliness, 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
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Word Origin and History for manliest



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
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