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I often utter the phrase 'Man up', or I talk about 'taking it like a man' or earning 'man points' (that last one, not so much, but I hear it still). I don't want to keep doing this, for obvious reasons; It's a bad habit, but I find myself saying it anyway.

Is there a better way of getting across that I'm 'manning up' or I expect someone else to 'man up'? Could I replace 'man' in those phrases with some other word, X and say something like 'Taking it like a(n) X'? Or should I just use a different phrase?

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Oh, well, you can always imitate the PC feminists and alternate between Man up! and Woman up!, or the PC egalitarians and say Person up!, or a reasonable speaker and say Grow up! I think that adult or grown-up are two reasonable substitutes for man in those cases, even though they may not sound good in every context. Orwell would say that using such clichés simply prevents you from thinking or relieves you from having to think about what you're saying in such a case. – user21497 Oct 19 '12 at 0:48
If you want to continue in a sexist, risque vein, you could say grow a pair. Let's not. – bib Oct 19 '12 at 2:09
Feel happy to say "Man up" frequently, and not "Man down!" – SF. Oct 19 '12 at 9:32
Last year’s movie “Zombieland” even showcased the provocative tagline “Nut up or shut up.” [On Language: The Meaning of ‘Man Up’] – Kris Aug 1 '13 at 10:29
@WayfaringStranger Since buck up derives from buck 'male deer', we still run into the same problem. – Anonym Sep 25 at 19:11

7 Answers 7

"Man up" is one of those phrases that can be intended to mean so many different things. Sometimes there is an intention to refer to a 'male' stereotype, sometimes there isn't. It sounds like you are looking for the latter. Here are some possibilities to start you off...

  • Get/grow a spine.
  • Stand up for yourself.
  • Assert yourself.


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"Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights." – user21497 Oct 19 '12 at 3:15
That's what I'm after. From now on I'll try to use these instead. – Pureferret Oct 19 '12 at 6:52
Now I think about it, 'Pull your socks up' would be a good phrase as well. – Pureferret Oct 19 '12 at 6:56
Pull yourself together! – biziclop Sep 25 at 21:43

The concept is take responsibility, so why not say it.


In light of comment, consider steel yourself

to ​force yourself to get ​ready to do something ​unpleasant or ​difficult: [+ to infinitive] She steeled herself to ​jump out of the ​plane.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

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The concept I am usually trying to express is more along the lines of, "I realize that you are scared but dig down deep and find a way to move beyond that." It's a bit too wordy to use as a cliché, no? – irrational John Sep 25 at 17:19

Buck up. A term used to make Troops bear their pain (Military speak).

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Suck it up.

To put up with something; to deal with something, such as pain or misfortune, without complaining. (Wiktionary)

Still perhaps not a great line for polite society, but it does avoid the gender issue.

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This is very nearly as obnoxious, and it only works for one phrase, but a good drop-in replacement for "man up" might be "step up", which is defined by Merriam-Webster as "to come forward (stepped up to claim responsibility) : to succeed in meeting a challenge".

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If you wanted to go the other way with it and be more obnoxious, consider "cowboy up". Just hearing it makes me want to jump out of windows. – Doug Warren Sep 25 at 19:27
On the other hand, and for unclear reasons, I find the concept of earning "cowboy points" delightful. – Doug Warren Sep 25 at 19:29

Brace up

brace up: to summon up one's courage; become resolute

Grit your teeth and bear it (or get it done)

grit one's teeth: Summon up one's strength to face unpleasantness or overcome a difficulty

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Are you strictly looking for vernacular? If you don't mind using more proper diction, try adjure

to charge, bind, or command earnestly and solemnly, often under oath or the threat of a penalty.

That's quite similar to how you said

""I realize that you are scared but dig down deep and find a way to move beyond that.""

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I'm looking for something that fits in well with everyday speech. – Pureferret Sep 26 at 9:06

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