Surprisingly, this word returns very few "meaningful" results on Google (like texts, blog posts, articles, etc) using it. It seems to be a new word. Yet, the OED gives no hits.

Is this an appropriate non-gendered alternative to man-made? For instance,

Poverty is a human-made phenomenon.

Since it still contains the word "man", some might say it is not. Yet, to my understanding, human has a much broad meaning than just a male person.

  • 3
    man-made is wrong here anyway. Man-made is really for things, not states of affairs. Poverty is a phenomenon for which humans are responsible or created by humans.
    – Lambie
    Jul 26 '17 at 15:58
  • 2
    For climate change "anthropogenic" is used. Jul 26 '17 at 18:24
  • I'm with @Lambie ... that this isn't a good place for "man-made" in it's generally understood meaning, let alone the gender issues. "man-made" pretty much means "manufactured" (and I don't think that needs to be turned into "humanufactured"). For your sentence I might choice "society" or "societal", or "socially created" phenomenon . These sorts of word choices are a matter of opinion to some degree, but at least those are my suggestions.
    – Tom22
    Jul 26 '17 at 23:11
  • What exactly would be wrong with "hand-made"? Some might complain that meant "amateurishly, as opposed to professionally" and to them I suggest first that's a very different Question and for who really wants to go there, the appropriate distinction would be between "hand-made" meaning carefully and "home-made" perhaps suggesting amateurishly. How could "human" be usefully different from "man…"? May 13 '20 at 20:37

I agree with Chris H but artificial is a gender-neutral way of saying man made, equating to engineered - while man-made itself is meant to be gender-neutral.

Can we drop questions of man-made, human-made or the sense of mankind, not male person?

In the context of this Question, trying to differentiate between "human-made" and "man-made" says what, exactly?

Most of what it says is that we should ignore etymology and historical usage, and try to appease a few neologists by distorting the language. No! Never. Always and irretrievably appalling (IMHO).

If we need to go back to the roots of our language let's do that, and do it right now!

If anyone thinks we need to change the language to suit today's politics, why must "change" mean "distort"? Why not just "restore"?

Man once meant person and now does mean male person but why is that a reason to invent new terms? Why not resurrect the old meaning, rather as with Miss, Mrs, Ms?

Can we recognise wife isn’t opposed to husband; each is a contraction, one of wifman, one of husbandman?

Husbandman meant person who looks after (stuff) while wifman meant person who weaves.

See that person? How is that difficult?


This is really a matter of opinion. I'll give mine with some reasoning.

I try to be careful with gender assumptions in writing, but would still use man-made if a synonym such as artificial didn't work, as it doesn't here. This means I consider man in man-made to have the sense of mankind (the human race) not male person.

Human-made would not present any difficulties in understanding; however, dropping a neologism into the middle of a text does disrupt the flow of reading (in my opinion). You could use it if you wanted to make a real commitment to gender neutrality (though there are a very few people who wouldn't like human as it contains --man; you'd probably end up with people-made before you could please them).

But then maybe man is correct in this case (poverty); look at the gender distribution of power and wealth now and historically.


There is no gender neutral alternative to man-made, especially not human-made. I base this solely on George Orwell's Politics and the English Language which has 6 advanced ninja-level rules for writing really well. The 6th rule is: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Human-made is barbarous.

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