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’
    • ‘The employees manning these centres are trained to remain unobtrusive and encourage the visitors to potter about, handling the products on display.’
    • ‘The centre is manned by fully trained technical personnel and all calls are recorded and logged to track and maintain a high service level.’
    • ‘The helpline is manned by volunteers in centres all around the country.’
    • ‘Now, though, the branch is fully manned and new staff are getting up to speed.’
    • ‘There are checkpoints manned by police or soldiers at every junction.’
    • ‘Militiamen are manning road and rooftop positions and main intersections leading into the area.’
    • ‘A 24-hour call centre operates, permanently manned by experienced personnel from all three Services.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One member of the team, an Air Force combat controller, was attacked while manning a security post.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They moved from the safety of their dugouts and manned their machine guns to face the British and French.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Trained volunteers will be manning the call centre to offer independent and confidential information and support to people experiencing difficulties.’
    • ‘The ship is manned by a staff of 700 who come from 25 countries.’
    • ‘Tens of thousands of troops and police are manning checkpoints and roadblocks.’
    • ‘The Hospice charity shops dotted around the borough are manned, for the most part, by unpaid volunteers.’
    • ‘A number of people have visited officers manning roadblocks on the road asking where they can leave flowers and tributes.’
    • ‘Schultz parked the Packard in someone's driveway and they both walked up to the policeman manning the barricade.’
    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

In the second half of the twentieth 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 at best old-fashioned. In some contexts, alternative terms such as the human race or humankind may be used. Fixed phrases and sayings such as time and tide wait for no man can be easily rephrased, e.g. time and tide wait for nobody. Alternatives for terms such as manpower or the verb man exist: for example, staff or employees, and to staff or to operate 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.