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What is the origin of the usage of the word "Man" as a word of exclamation?

Man this curry is delicious!

Man my feet hurt!

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"Boy" also seems to work in those contexts. Are man and boy related? –  ShreevatsaR Feb 25 '11 at 9:47

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It started as a generic vocative expression, like calling somebody "buddy" today -- the word meant "person", the sense of "adult male" came later. According to the OED, it started to switch over to being a more general interjection about 1823.

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Etymonline adds, "As an interjection of surprise or emphasis, first recorded c.1400, but especially popular from early 20c.". –  RegDwigнt Feb 25 '11 at 10:32

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