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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 manliness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Hercules exemplifies muscular strength, and Apollo still typifies that which is most beautiful in manliness.

    Invention Bradley A. Fiske
  • What perceptible sign of mature age or manliness is there about him?

  • He then exhibits character in its most intrepid form, and embodies the highest idea of manliness.

    Character Samuel Smiles
  • And yet I could not help wondering at his natural temperance and self-restraint and manliness.

    Symposium Plato
  • His beauty was of the vigorous type, which wins admiration by its manliness rather than its perfection.

    With Edge Tools Hobart Chatfield-Taylor
British Dictionary definitions for manliness


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 manliness

late 14c., from manly + -ness.



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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