man

\ \ [OE] Man is a widespread Germanic word (with relatives in German mannman’ and menschperson’, Dutch and Swedish manman’, Danish mandman’, and Swedish menniskaperson’), and connections have even been found outside Germanic (Sanskrit, for instance, had mánu- ‘man’). But no decisive evidence has been found for an ultimate Indo- European source. Among the suggestions put forward have been links with a base *men- ‘think’ or ‘breathe’, or with Latin manushand’.
\ \ The etymologically primary sense of the word is ‘human being, person’, and that is what it generally meant in Old English: the sexes were generally distinguished by werman’ (which survives probably in werewolf and is related to world) and wīf (source of modern English wife) or cwenewoman’. But during the Middle English and early modern English periods ‘male person’ gradually came to the fore, and today ‘person’ is decidedly on the decline (helped on its way by those who feel that the usage discriminates against women). Woman originated in Old English as a compound of wīfwoman, female’ and manperson’. Manikin [17] was borrowed from Dutch manneken, a diminutive form of manman’; and mannequin [18] is the same word acquired via French.
\ \ Cf.MANIKIN, MANNEQUIN

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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