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!

  • 6
    "Boy" also seems to work in those contexts. Are man and boy related? Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 9:47

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 2
    Etymonline adds, "As an interjection of surprise or emphasis, first recorded c.1400, but especially popular from early 20c.".
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 10:32

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