1. as a term of address.
(a) [late 16C+] used emphatically in direct address [Gold, A Jazz Lexicon (1964), and Major, Juba to Jive: A Dict. of Afro-American Slang (1994), suggest that the term was adopted by US blacks to counter the common white use of ‘boy’ when addressing blacks: note McCall, Makes Me Wanna Holler (1994): ‘More fights started over one person calling another ‘boy’ than over anything else. To counter that indignity, we addressed each other respectfully as ‘man’, even though we were not adults’].
(b) [20C+] used in direct address, without emphasis, usu. to acknowledge a shared social or cultural identity (later usage sometimes includes women, children and animals).
2. as a piece of money [the picture, usu. of a male monarch, that was engraved on most coins + iron man, a term for various units of currency].
(a) [early 19C] the head of a coin.
(b) [1910s–60s] (US) $1.
3. [mid-19C+] (US, also old man, son) the penis.
4. (orig. US) constr. with the.
(a) [1910s+] the holder of institutional authority, whether an individual, e.g. a prison warden, a senior military officer, or in sing. or pl., a group, e.g. policemen, prison officers.
(b) [1920s+] the holder of power, in a non-institutional context; anyone deemed exceptional in ability; thus (US black) you the man, a phr. implying one’s acceptance of another person’s superiority.
(c) [1930s+] (US, also the Man above, the big man) God.
(d) [1940s+] (orig. US) a (major) drug dealer.
(e) [1940s+] (US black) the white ruling class.
(f) [1950s+] a crime boss, esp. when he masquerades as a respectable businessman.
(g) [1950s+] (US black) the US Government.
(h) [1990s+] an exemplary person.
5. [1930s–40s] (US black) a pint bottle of liquor [Scot. halfman, half a bottle of spirits; thus half-man n.].
6. [1950s+] as a quasi-suffix, a fan, an enthusiast; e.g. leg man n. (2)
[1960s] half a dollar.
[1970s] (US black) to go to work.
SE in slang uses
[mid-19C] a coffin.
[1920s–50s] (US) a labour recruiter, an employment agency.
[1950s] (W.I.) a very large dumpling.
[1970s+] (US black) the penis.
see paste n.1
[1920s] (US tramp) a grave digger.
[19C] the penis.
[early 18C–mid-19C] the penis.
see separate entry.
[20C+] (W.I.) of a woman, to surrender oneself to male advances.
[late 19C; 1970s–80s] (US black) a person in trouble.
[1970s–80s] (UK black) a person.
[20C+] (W.I.) a phr. used to issue a definite challenge to fight, with the implication of finding out who is the ‘better man’.
[1930s] (US, Western) a killing.
[1990s+] (Aus.) a shark.
see boys in blue n.
[1930s–50s] (US black) a postman.
see little man (in the boat) n.
see separate entry.
[20C+] (W.I.) a woman’s lover on whom she relies for various favours.
see gentleman of the road under gentleman of... n.
[late 17C–early 19C] a debauchee, a libertine.
[late 19C] a professional thief, usu. a pickpocket.
[18C–19C] the Fleet prison, London.
[1970s] (US black) Manischewitz Wine.
1. (Aus.) the source of all rumours; also as phr. don’t know — from the man outside Hoyt’s.
2. a beggar.
3. (Aus. Und.) the source of any stolen property that the police might find with a receiver.
[2000s] (US prison) a signal that a prison officer is approaching.
[1930s–40s] (US black) a policeman in a patrol car.
[1930s–60s] (US black) a policeman.
[1940s+] (US) a talkative fool – all talk and little or no action.
[1940s+] (Aus.) a miser.
[1940s] (US black) a judge.
see under balls n.
see under sure as... phr.