Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
plural of man (n.). To separate the men from the boys in a figurative sense is from 1943; earliest uses tend to credit it to U.S. aviators in World War II.
One of the most expressive G.I. terms to come out of the late strife was "that's where they separate the men from the boys" -- so stated by American aviators leaning from their cockpits to observe a beach-landing under fire on some Pacific island far below. ["Arts Magazine," 1947]
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.
Variant of meno-.
A dollar; iron man: You oughta grab about 300 men (1921+)Related Terms
ass man, backdoor man, box man, butter-and-egg man, candy man, company man, con man, dirty old man, fancy man, finger man, first man, four-letter man, g-man, hammer-man, hatchet man, he-man, hit man, honey man, hoop-man, iron man, jigger-man, juice man, ladies' man, leg man, ounce man, pete-man, peterman, point, poor man's something, rod-man, sandwich man, see a man about a dog, shack man, straight man, sweet man, tit man, trigger man, vent man, wheel man
[in the first sense, the very similar man alive is found by 1839]
(1.) Heb. 'Adam, used as the proper name of the first man. The name is derived from a word meaning "to be red," and thus the first man was called Adam because he was formed from the red earth. It is also the generic name of the human race (Gen. 1:26, 27; 5:2; 8:21; Deut. 8:3). Its equivalents are the Latin homo and the Greek anthropos (Matt. 5:13, 16). It denotes also man in opposition to woman (Gen. 3:12; Matt. 19:10). (2.) Heb. 'ish, like the Latin vir and Greek aner, denotes properly a man in opposition to a woman (1 Sam. 17:33; Matt. 14:21); a husband (Gen. 3:16; Hos. 2:16); man with reference to excellent mental qualities. (3.) Heb. 'enosh, man as mortal, transient, perishable (2 Chr. 14:11; Isa. 8:1; Job 15:14; Ps. 8:4; 9:19, 20; 103:15). It is applied to women (Josh. 8:25). (4.) Heb. geber, man with reference to his strength, as distinguished from women (Deut. 22:5) and from children (Ex. 12:37); a husband (Prov. 6:34). (5.) Heb. methim, men as mortal (Isa. 41:14), and as opposed to women and children (Deut. 3:6; Job 11:3; Isa. 3:25). Man was created by the immediate hand of God, and is generically different from all other creatures (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7). His complex nature is composed of two elements, two distinct substances, viz., body and soul (Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 12:7; 2 Cor. 5:1-8). The words translated "spirit" and "soul," in 1 Thess. 5:23, Heb. 4:12, are habitually used interchangeably (Matt. 10:28; 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:22). The "spirit" (Gr. pneuma) is the soul as rational; the "soul" (Gr. psuche) is the same, considered as the animating and vital principle of the body. Man was created in the likeness of God as to the perfection of his nature, in knowledge (Col. 3:10), righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24), and as having dominion over all the inferior creatures (Gen. 1:28). He had in his original state God's law written on his heart, and had power to obey it, and yet was capable of disobeying, being left to the freedom of his own will. He was created with holy dispositions, prompting him to holy actions; but he was fallible, and did fall from his integrity (3:1-6). (See FALL.)