1. as a term of address.
(a) 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’].
|Reeve’s Tale (1979) line 219: Step on thy feet! Com of, man, al atanes!|
|Bowge of Courte line 388: What the devyll, man, myrth was never one!|
|Gammer Gurton’s Needle in Whitworth (1997) II i: Gog’s soul, man, […] Cha’ bit no bite this livelong day.|
|James IV I i: Fall to it; dance, I say, man.|
|Eastward Ho! I i: ’Slife, man, his father was a malt-man, and his mother sold gingerbread in Christ-church!|
|Chances III i: She’ll grow stark mad, Man.|
|Royal King and Loyal Subject I i: Say you so, man?|
|Widdow I ii: Why man, Fortune never minds us, till we are left alone to ourselves.|
|Lucky Chance III v: Why, what a pox, are you mad? ’Tis I, ’tis I, man.|
|Hudibras Redivivus I:9 11: But man, says he, I’ll tell thee what.|
|Humours of Oxford V i: What’s the Matter now, Man?|
|Upholsterer II iii: Odsheart Man be of good chear.|
|Disappointment I i: By my saul mon!|
|Blue Devils 9: Pooh, pooh! I can’t go, mun.|
|A School For Grown Children II i: Oh, you must not be civil, mun!|
|‘Of All The Blowings On The Town’ Flash Chaunter 5: Her mother she’s a lushington, / And stone blind drunk all day man.|
|Ticket-of-Leave Man 23: Oh, man—can’t you help a chap get a good night’s rest?|
|Robbery Under Arms (1922) 273: Dash it, man, what’s the use of us wasting time jawing here?|
|Boy’s Own Paper 17 Dec. 187: Why, man, your mother is sure to consent.|
|Sporting Times 13 May 4/4: Lor’ bless you, man, I haven’t bowled for ten years.|
|Man with Two Left Feet 130: ‘But, heavens, man!’ I cried.‘The Making of Mac’s’|
|Jim Maitland (1953) 83: Why, man – I wouldn’t have believed it possible!|
|Rover 18 Feb. 11: Man, the referee’s daft!|
|Really the Blues 11: Man, it was wonderful to see the look in Murph’s eye when Yellow was blowing up a breeze.|
|Battle Cry (1964) 34: Oh, man [...] my lil ole pappy tole me not to leave our magnolia plantation.|
|Hell’s Angels (1967) 48: Man, I tell you we had some real beefs.|
|Jones Men 53: Man, like I just can’t do no more time, you hear me?|
|Bonfire of the Vanities 4: We don’t want your figures, man!|
|Guardian Guide 15–21 May 23: Man, my mother was a woman. I loved my mother.|
|White Teeth 22: Man [...] dis life no easy!|
|Soothing Music for Stray Cats 169: Man, I was pissed at these guys.|
|Running the Books 6: Inmates exchange intrixcate handshakes and formal titles: OG, young G, boo, bro, baby boy, brutha, dude, cuz, dawg, P, G, daddy, pimpin’, nigga, man, thug thizzle, my boy, my man, homie.|
(b) used in direct address, without emphasis, usu. to acknowledge a shared social or cultural identity (later usage sometimes includes women, children and animals).
|Boy’s Own Paper 22 Dec. 187: ‘Hold hard, Jack,’ he cried; ‘why, man, don’t you see it’s only a garden hose?’.|
|Everlasting Mercy 40: At that I leaped and screamed and ran, / I heard their cries go ‘Catch him, man.’.|
|Thieves Like Us 2: ‘Godamighty, Man,’ Jasbo said.|
|Tomboy (1952) 144: Are you trying to be funny, man, or are you just stupid?|
|All Night Stand 83: What about some sounds, man.|
|in Hellhole 145: He turns to me [i.e. a woman] and says, ‘I mean, man, now you have miss your chance.’.|
|(con. 1960s) Wanderers 22: Don’t worry, man, you ain’t gonna have to fight everybody. Just me.|
|Campus Sl. Fall 5: man – universal label for all people: Yo, Mom, man. Let me speak to Dad.|
|Yardie 76: Stay away from me, man.|
|Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 18: Hoping you is getting over the flu, man.|
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) the head of a coin.
|Living Picture of London 241: The person calling for ‘man’ or ‘woman’.|
|Scarlet City 73: I’ll toss you [...] Now then, ’man’ or ‘woman’. You cry.|
(b) (US) $1.
|TAD Lex. (1993) 56: Here’s the salary with the three extra men for the night I worked.in Zwilling|
|Big Town 191: I must of went crazy and played him for a thousand men.|
|Coll. Short Stories (1941) 420: If I was you I’d take my seven hundred men and invest it.‘A Frame-Up’ in|
3. (US, also old man, son) the penis.
|[||Wit and Drollery 213: His name was Little Sir Walter [...] Yet Lord, how his man-Kellam stood!].et al. ‘Priest’s Anthem’ in|
|‘The Chapter of Smutty Toasts’ in Icky-Wickey Songster 8: Here’s the hole that receives, and the man that can feel, / May he always be able to stand a good deal.|
|Venus in India I 90: ‘I think Lizzie, we must have just one poke,’ and he asked me would I like to get his ‘man’ out.|
|in Letter from My Father (1978) 241: When I felt the ‘son’ was rising and could no longer be restrained I [...] rushed back again for the cold, cold shower.|
|Farm (1968) 210: I could feel her flesh [...] against me, where I could rest My Man on her thigh.|
|(con. 1960s) Smokey Hollow 59: Maisie McGee offered to swap a glimpse of her bum for a look at Damo Scully’s weewee man.|
|Guardian On Line 9 Aug. [Internet] The pecker pecking order, if you will: the bigger the mister, the bigger the man.|
4. (orig. US) constr. with the.
(a) 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.
|AS VIII:3 (1933) 29/2: MAN (the). Executive Officer; as when a guard yells, Unuther goddam word out o’ you-all, an’ Ah’ll send ev’ry goddam one of ye up t’ the Man.‘Prison Dict.’ in|
|Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr. list extracted in AS VI:2 1930 133: Man, the, n. Warden.‘Chatter of Guns’ in|
|AS IX:4 288: man Anyone in authority. When I rode [q.v.] in that exam I took the Man out! means ‘When I cheated in that exam I put one over on the professor!’.‘Negro Sl. in Lincoln University’ in|
|Coll. Stories (1990) 42: When them cats went in for dinner I found the man an’ said, ‘I’m quittin.’.‘Let Me at the Enemy’ in|
|Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) 164: Here comes The Man! [...] The Man what brings the heat. Every dope fiend got off the street and hit his hole.|
|Howard Street 25: Bitch, shut up that noise! [...] You wanna bring the man down on me or somethin’?|
|Fields of Fire (1980) 144: As long as he’s looking good to the Man [i.e. a superior officer], he couldn’t give a rat’s ass how many people are bleeding.|
|(con. 1967) Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 71: When you live with killers on some lonesome mountain out beyond nowhere and you’re The Man, you do adjust.|
|Vinnie Got Blown Away 155: I got to see the man.|
|Nature Girl 16: You see the Man coming, first thing to go overboard is the gun.|
|Riptide Ultra-Glide 277: Okay, but that’s entrapment if you’re The Man.|
(b) 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.
|Walls Of Jericho 306: the man Designation of abstract authority. He who trespasses where a sign forbids is asked: ‘Say, biggy, can’t you read the man’s sign?’.|
|Coll. Stories (1990) 344: Look, buddy, what are we fighting each other for, we’re both starving; let’s get together and fight the man.‘In the Night’ in|
|(con. 1948) Flee the Angry Strangers 33: I’m digging a lot of Armstrong, ’cause he’s the man.|
|Howard Street 107: For the younger kids ‘the man’ was school, for the older ones, employers, to the hustlers he was a trick or a score.|
|Smack Man (1991) 34: I’m the Man, man [...] A bitch ain’t nuthin’ without her Man [i.e. a pimp]. They too dumb to handle it [prostitution] themselves.|
|(con. 1970s) King Suckerman (1998) 14: The Man with the Master Plan Who Be Takin’ It to the Man.|
|Westsiders 38: Giovanni — rest in peace — was the man. He always had the new mix tapes and the flyest gear.|
|Jamaica Obs. 23 Aug. [Internet] ‘Bolt is still the man!’ ‘Bolt has distinguished himself as a truly legendary athlete’.|
(c) (US, also the Man above, the big man) God.
|World I Never Made 65: When we go, Mother, it’s because we are called by the Great Man above.|
|Down These Mean Streets (1970) 316: I [...] bent my knees, feeling like for the first time in my life I was really going to get together with the Big Man.|
|About Face (1991) 30: I was really talking to God. I was talking to The Man.|
(d) (orig. US) a (major) drug dealer.
|Amer. Thes. Sl.|
|Junkie (1966) 87: When I first hit New Orleans the main pusher – or ‘the Man’ as they say here – was a character called Yellow.|
|Real Bohemia xx: The addict, known as a ‘junkie’ or ‘hype,’ purchases his heroin from ‘the man’.|
|Shaft 57: The man, the pusher, would be back.|
|(con. 1940s–60s) Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 118: Is there a connection a round? I have to cop [...] It’s too early to see my man.‘Johnnie I’ in|
|(con. 1982–6) Cocaine Kids (1990) 48: Right now, I’m waiting for my man to come through.|
|Trainspotting 21: With [...] all due reverence tae Mikey’s status as The Man, ah hand them [i.e. pound notes] ower.|
|Get Your Cock Out 13: Why bother waiting for the man when you could achieve oblivion with a couple of bottles of vodka at a fraction of the price.|
|(con. 1962) Stark 14: Stark guessed he was a runner. Maybe he could lead him to the Man.|
|Life 407: I’m under the benches, just hiding and throwing up, because the man hasn’t arrived [...] Any way you look at it, junkies are people waiting for the man.|
(e) (US black) the white ruling class.
|Novels and Stories (1995) 1010: The man: the law or powerful boss.‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in|
|Die Nigger Die! 12: negro america: Think white or I’ll kill you. / And if you think too white ‘the man’ will kill you.|
|Black Players 231: If I get busted and they put me in the joint, forget about me and keep doing that thing. Get the Man [...] get him.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 4: The [white] Man he ain’t down wid d’ happ’nin’s [knowledgeable about what is happening].|
|Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 301: They talked white and thought white and even dressed goofy like the man.|
|Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] man, the Definition: 1. a working boss; the Caucasian male 2. a personification of white society, especially racially repressive white society [...] Example: The man is holdin me down.|
(f) a crime boss, esp. when he masquerades as a respectable businessman.
|Savage Night (1991) 8: You’ve heard of The Man [...] One month he’s up before some government investigating committee. The next he’s attending a big political dinner.|
|Scene (1996) 79: Maybe the Big Boy won’t let The Man ease out.|
|Jones Men 5: Hey, Jack, he the man.|
|Muscle for the Wing 217: You want to be on the right side of the man, you listen to me.|
|It Was An Accident 39: Wondering why the fuck the man was after me. On account of I spoke to the Old Bill?|
|Outlaws (ms.) 9: Just listen to him. Monsieur Mob. Signor Blag. The fucking Man.|
(g) (US black) the US Government.
|Vulture (1996) 27: When I hit eighteen, I went straight to the Man and got my card.|
|Third Ear n.p.: The Man n. [...] 6. Uncle Sam; the government.|
(h) an exemplary person.
|Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] the man n. [...] 2. a guy who is extremely cool. ‘Thanks for the hook up. You’re the man!’.|
|Life 481: It wasn’t very long before I knew that he’s the man.|
5. (US black) a pint bottle of liquor [Scot. halfman, half a bottle of spirits; thus half-man n.].
|(con. 1940) The Avenue, Clayton City 64: If you want a man, or half-a-man, then pay your $3, or your $1.50, and get your whiskey.|
6. as a quasi-suffix, a fan, an enthusiast; e.g. leg man n. (2)
|Crust on its Uppers 34: If you’re a boiler man, that’s just part of the package.|
half a dollar.
|Down These Mean Streets (1970) 106: ‘Hey, man, you got a couple charlies you can lend me?’ ‘Sorry, man, I wish I did have two bucks, but here’s half a man,’ and I really wouldn’t hear the ‘Thanks, man,’ as I slid half a dollar into a hand that somehow would convert that change into a fix of heroin.|
(US black) to go to work.
|Third Ear n.p.: meet The Man v. go to work.|
SE in slang uses
|Fancy 34: When shall I have a long man-box bespoke?‘King Tims the First’ in|
|AS XI:3 201: Man box.‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
(US) a labour recruiter, an employment agency.
|Hobo 5: Here men in search of work bargain for jobs in distant places with the ‘man catchers’ from the agencies.|
|Jarnegan (1928) 60: The gentleman in charge of obtaining men for the different jobs was known as the ‘man hunter’.|
|Milk and Honey Route 210: Man-catcher – The shark’s assistant who urges a job on the hobo – usually to fill a shipment of men.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 152: man catcher [...] man grabber [...] man hunter An employment agent; a foreman who hires men.|
|(con. 1920s–40s) in Rebel Voices.|
(W.I.) a very large dumpling.
|cited in Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).|
(US black) the penis.
|Amatory Ink [Internet].|
|College Dudes [Internet] Hot Man Muscle Meat inside!|
|18th & M 209: The way her hand massaged his man-muscle danced around his thoughts and he wondered just how good she could make him feel .|
|IGN for Men 14 Feb. [Internet] Absolutely, positively the hottest babe under 20 is none other than Ms. Spears. [...] Of course, there’s tons of others to list (Kim Smith, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Natalie Portman... OK enough! I’m getting man pains).|
see paste n.1
(US tramp) a grave digger.
|Beggars of Life 24: Give the eight cents to the man-planter fur a tip.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
|Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 19: Asperge, f. The penis; ‘the man-root’.|
|Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden 25: Alec had his middle finger in Ada’s eel-pot, with Bertie’s man-root caught in the crook of his elbow.|
|School of Venus 108: To call a man’s Instrument according to its name, a Prick, is it not better than Tarsander, a Mans-Yard, Man Thomas and such like tedious demonstrations.|
|Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 143: They soon made a Shift to set Mr. Monger and his Man Thomas at Liberty.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Pretty Little Games (1872) plate viii: With holy love he rolls his eyes, / Yet view his stout man Thomas rise.|
|Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 189: The reverse process of this [...] depersonification of the penis is its personification [...] as Dick, John Thomas, J.T., John Willie, man Thomas, etc.|
see separate entry.
(W.I.) of a woman, to surrender oneself to male advances.
|Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage.|
(US black) a person in trouble.
|Sl. Dict. 187: Hanging in difficulties. A man who is in great straits, and who is, therefore, prepared to do anything desperate to retrieve his fortunes, is said, among sporting men, to be ‘a man hanging,’ i.e, a man to whom any change must be for the better. [Ibid.] 222: Man a-hanging a man in difficulties.|
|Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].|
(UK black) a person.
|(con. 1979–80) Brixton Rock (2004) 75: I was gonna ask man an’ man for eighty sheets.|
(W.I.) a phr. used to issue a definite challenge to fight, with the implication of finding out who is the ‘better man’.
|cited in Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage (1996).|
(US, Western) a killing.
|Daily Nugget (Tombstone AZ) 18 Oct. n.p.: [W]e are disappointed in not having a dead man for breakfast.|
|Cowboy Lingo 171: Of a killing there was said to be a ‘man for breakfast’.|
(Aus.) a shark.
|Lockie Leonard, Legend (1998) 5: Hooley-dooley, that was no dolphin. [...] It was a Noah’s ark. A man in a grey flannel suit. The fish with a tax collector’s smile. A swimming lawyer.|
see boys in blue n.
(US black) a postman.
|New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 258: man in gray (n.): the postman.|
|‘Jiver’s Bible’ in Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.|
|in Erotic Muse (1992) 241: The postman came on the first of May; / The policeman came on the very next day. / Nine months later there was hell to pay: / Who fired that first shot, the blue or the gray?|
see little man (in the boat) n.
see separate entry.
(W.I.) a woman’s lover on whom she relies for various favours.
|Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage.|
see gentleman of the road under gentleman of... n.
a debauchee, a libertine.
|Match in Newgate II i: I shall never become heartily a man o’th’ Town, a kind of flat ungracious Debauchee.|
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Man o’th’ town a Lew’d Spark, or very Debauchee.|
|New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|(con. mid-18C) Biog. Dict. 123/1: Drunk with success, he [i.e. Charles Churchill] now quitted his wife, and, resigning his gown, with all clerical functions, commenced a man of the town, and indulged in all the gayeties, and even vices of it.|
|Byron 91: If he could have got rid of this and his title, he would have talked like a man ; not like a mere man of the town, or a great spoilt schoolboy.|
a professional thief, usu. a pickpocket.
|Leaves from a Prison Diary I 109: The ‘man of the world’ [...] is the professional or skilled rifler of other people’s pockets.|
|In the Blood 143: [heading] A ‘Man of the World’.|
the Fleet prison, London.
|Modern Flash Dict.|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.|
(US black) Manischewitz Wine.
|Vulture (1996) 108: It was some kind of wine. ‘Man-o-man,’ Spade said, meaning Manischewitz wine.|
1. (Aus.) the source of all rumours; also as phr. don’t know — from the man outside Hoyt’s.
|As You Were 90: ‘Who’s that swearing?’ The muffled reply is one of those meaningless army answers – ‘The Man outside Hoyts,’ Sister either doesn’t hear it or else it goes over her head. ‘What did you say?’ she asks. ‘The man outside Hoyts’.|
|Aus. Speaks 133: Hoyt’s, the man outside, a mythical person who starts all false rumours; the source of stolen property which an innocent (!) receiver is found to have in his possession.|
|Hard Way 85: ‘Struth, it’s funny enough for a fat bludger dressed up like the man outside Hoyt’s* to come into a prison cell in the middle of the night.’ (*Uniformed announcer outside Hoyt’s Theatre in Melbourne who wears a most elaborate uniform).|
|Sydney Morning Herald 5 July 9: We might be better off to abandon pre-selections and elections, and choose our politicians by having the Governor (or the man outside Hoyts) stick pins into the telephone book [AND].|
|GAW4].in the Australian 30 Nov. 2: Who should be deciding these matters [of balance in reporting]? The man outside Hoyts? [|
|(con. 1945–6) Devil’s Jump (2008) 42: Right. The Filthy Blighter. To be honest I thought it was something like ‘the man outside Hoyts’ [...] You know there’s no such bloke.|
2. a beggar.
|Restless Men 173: You’re no good [...] And you never will be any good. You'll go round for the rest of your life with the arse out of your strides, like the man outside Hoyt’s.|
3. (Aus. Und.) the source of any stolen property that the police might find with a receiver.
|cited in DAUS (1993).|
|N.Y. Times 22 Aug. BR11: Mr. McDougall says that the only thing that sustained him and kept him going through the hours in the water was the counsel he received from ‘the man upstairs.’ During those hours his God—for whom he seldom uses that word—became something very personal and very near to him.|
|N.Y. Times 19 Mar. 35: That is why [...] we have so much juke box religion with its silly shallow sentimentalities of ‘Are You Friends With the King of Friends?’ or ‘Have You Talked With the Man Upstairs?’ [...] We seem to have a naive faith in the indulgent good naturedness of the Man Upstairs, and an equally naive faith in the magic of believing.|
|Gonif 141: Make yourself a big man, first with the cons, then the law, and then the man upstairs.|
|Do or Die (1992) 105: They gonna learn — the Man upstairs is watchin’.|
|(con. 1975–6) Steel Toes 83: This is my operation. I call the shots, answer to nobody but the man upstairs.|
(US prison) a signal that a prison officer is approaching.
|Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Man Walking: A signal that an officer is coming down the tier.|
(US black) a policeman in a patrol car.
|Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 66: We’d better put out the fire, cause the man who rides the screaming gasser is in port.|
(US black) a policeman.
|‘Madison Street Rag’ [lyrics] Oh man, we’re havin’ a good time. Mmm-mm. / In a few minute, here come the man with the headache stick. / And you know one thing, that boy run himself off and left me. / There he go, catch ’em.|
|Dict. Afro-Amer. Sl.|
|Juba to Jive 296: Man with headache stick n. (1950s–1960s) policeman.|
(US) a talkative fool – all talk and little or no action.
|Beach Red 92: You sound like a man with a paper asshole. Don’t you think I’d like to shoot my way out of this if I thought it could be done?|
|(con. 1950) Band of Brothers 94: Properly loyal, my good and faithful Annapolis grad. But you’re talking like a man with a paper rectum.|
|Steelwork 170: I do not know this gentleman too well but he talks like a man with a paper asshole.|
|Morning Light 212: And a man with a paper asshole ain’t a man.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 40: Not a [...] man with a paper ass, but a person of substance.|
|Pack of Lies 73: I’m beginning to sound to myself like the proverbial man with a paper asshole.|
|Cuts (2005) 87: We were just bullshitting one day and he said to me, ‘Andre, you talk like a man with a paper asshole.’.|
(Aus.) a miser.
|Tharunka (Kensington, NSW) 20 Sept. 6/3: You know, a real Casanova. One for the girls. Always throwing his money around like a man with no hands!|
(US black) a judge.
|‘Jiver’s Bible’ in Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.|
see under balls n.
see under sure as... phr.