exclamation

North American
informal
  • Used, irrespective of the sex of the person addressed, to express surprise, admiration, delight, etc., or for emphasis.

    ‘man, what a show!’
    • ‘‘Man it sure was different back in the ol days,’ says Gilbert.’
    • ‘You see a couple in a restaurant or walking on the street and they appear to be so much in love, so happy with each other and you say, man, I wish I could have that.’
    • ‘You got to stop drinking, man!’
    • ‘Oh, hey man, how's it going? Did you and Lex have a good time last night?’
    • ‘This is a nice place, man! I can't believe you used to live here.’
    • ‘Hey man, I don't have any problem with Jackson, or how Lord of The Rings was filmed.’

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