Green’s Dictionary of Slang

man n.

also mun

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)

In phrases

half-a-man (n.)

[1960s] half a dollar.

meet the man (v.)

[1970s] (US black) to go to work.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

man-box (n.)

[mid-19C] a coffin.

man-catcher (n.) (also man-getter, -grabber, -hunter, -shark)

[1920s–50s] (US) a labour recruiter, an employment agency.

man dumpling (n.) [the implication is either of being as big as a man, or a man-sized portion]

[1950s] (W.I.) a very large dumpling.

man pains (n.) [1990s+] (US black teen)

sexual frustration.

man planter (n.) [plant v.1 (2)]

[1920s] (US tramp) a grave digger.

man root (n.)

[19C] the penis.

man Thomas (n.)

[early 18C–mid-19C] the penis.

man-trap (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

give on a man (v.) (also give upon a man)

[20C+] (W.I.) of a woman, to surrender oneself to male advances.

man-a-hanging (n.)

[late 19C; 1970s–80s] (US black) a person in trouble.

man and man (n.) [on pattern of I and I pron.]

[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’.

man for breakfast (n.)

[1930s] (US, Western) a killing.

man in a grey flannel suit (n.)

[1990s+] (Aus.) a shark.

man in gray (n.) (also gray)

[1930s–50s] (US black) a postman.

man in the moon (n.)

see separate entry.

man of business (n.) [Carib.E. man of business, a handyman]

[20C+] (W.I.) a woman’s lover on whom she relies for various favours.

man of the town (n.)

[late 17C–early 19C] a debauchee, a libertine.

man of the world (n.)

[late 19C] a professional thief, usu. a pickpocket.

man of war (n.) [its site, on the east bank of the Fleet River; the image is of an anchored warship]

[18C–19C] the Fleet prison, London.

man-o’-man (n.)

[1970s] (US black) Manischewitz Wine.

man outside Hoyt’s (n.) [the commissionaire outside Hoyt’s Theatre, Melbourne, a gorgeously uniformed individual] [1940s+]

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.

man upstairs, the (n.)

[1940s+] God.

man walking (n.)

[2000s] (US prison) a signal that a prison officer is approaching.

man who rides the screaming gasser (n.)

[1930s–40s] (US black) a policeman in a patrol car.

man with a headache stick (n.) [i.e. his nightstick/truncheon]

[1930s–60s] (US black) a policeman.

man with a paper asshole (n.) (also man with a paper ass, ...rectum) [ass n. (2)/asshole n.]

[1940s+] (US) a talkative fool – all talk and little or no action.

man with no hands (n.)

[1940s+] (Aus.) a miser.

man with the book of many years (n.)

[1940s] (US black) a judge.

man with the fuzzy balls (n.)

see under balls n.