verb

[with object]
  • 1(of personnel) work at, run, or operate (a place or piece of equipment) or defend (a fortification)

    ‘the helpline is manned by trained staff’
    ‘the firemen manned the pumps and fought the blaze’
    • ‘They moved from the safety of their dugouts and manned their machine guns to face the British and French.’
    • ‘The centre is manned by fully trained technical personnel and all calls are recorded and logged to track and maintain a high service level.’
    • ‘Now, though, the branch is fully manned and new staff are getting up to speed.’
    • ‘A number of people have visited officers manning roadblocks on the road asking where they can leave flowers and tributes.’
    • ‘A 24-hour call centre operates, permanently manned by experienced personnel from all three Services.’
    • ‘One member of the team, an Air Force combat controller, was attacked while manning a security post.’
    • ‘Schultz parked the Packard in someone's driveway and they both walked up to the policeman manning the barricade.’
    • ‘Not only was this the first manned flight to and from the Moon, Apollo 8 served to validate many of the technical procedures necessary to support upcoming lunar missions.’
    • ‘The Hospice charity shops dotted around the borough are manned, for the most part, by unpaid volunteers.’
    • ‘For the early manned missions to be seen as successful, the surface crew will need to explore large areas of Mars, ranging far from their base.’
    • ‘The committee who are stretched to the limit manning the centre, are very thankful to the local District Hospital who cook and prepare the hot meals for them.’
    • ‘The employees manning these centres are trained to remain unobtrusive and encourage the visitors to potter about, handling the products on display.’
    • ‘The helpline is manned by volunteers in centres all around the country.’
    • ‘Militiamen are manning road and rooftop positions and main intersections leading into the area.’
    • ‘Trained volunteers will be manning the call centre to offer independent and confidential information and support to people experiencing difficulties.’
    • ‘There are checkpoints manned by police or soldiers at every junction.’
    • ‘It is believed passengers have been queueing up to two hours in Terminal 1 because only one of five X-ray machines was manned due to staffing problems.’
    • ‘Tens of thousands of troops and police are manning checkpoints and roadblocks.’
    • ‘I've been keen to get more involved as the place is manned by enthusiastic volunteers who supply locals with tasty, healthy food at low prices.’
    • ‘The ship is manned by a staff of 700 who come from 25 countries.’
    staff, crew, occupy, people
    operate, work, use, utilize
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Provide someone to fill (a post)
      ‘the chaplaincy was formerly manned by the cathedral’
      staff, crew, occupy, people
      View synonyms
  • 2archaic Fortify the spirits or courage of.

    ‘he manned himself with dauntless air’

Usage

Traditionally, the word man has been used to refer not only to adult males but also to human beings in general, regardless of sex. There is a historical explanation for this: in Old English, the principal sense of man was ‘a human being’, and the words wer and wif were used to refer specifically to ‘a male person’ and ‘a female person’, respectively. Subsequently, man replaced wer as the normal term for ‘a male person’, but at the same time the older sense ‘a human being’ remained in use. In the second half of the 20th century, the generic use of man to refer to ‘human beings in general’ (as in reptiles were here long before man appeared on the earth) became problematic; the use is now often regarded as sexist or old-fashioned. In some contexts, terms such as the human race or humankind may be used instead of man or mankind. Certain fixed phrases and sayings, such as time and tide wait for no man can be easily rephrased (e.g., time and tide wait for no one). Alternatives for other related terms exist as well: the noun manpower, for example, can usually be replaced with staff or crew, and in most cases, the verbal form to man can be expressed as to staff or to operate