A man is a male human. The term man (irregular plural: men) is used for an adult human male, while the term boy is the usual term for a human male child or adolescent human male. However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole. Sometimes it is also used to identify a male human, regardless of age, as in phrases such as "Men's rights".
The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz "man, person") and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age. This is indeed the oldest usage of "man". The word developed into Old English man, mann "human being, person," (cf. also German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna "man"). Few argue that the term man is derived from Manu, the first human according to Hindu beliefs.
Age and terminology
The term manhood is used to describe the period in a human male's life after he has transitioned from boyhood, having passed through puberty, usually having attained male secondary sexual characteristics, and symbolises a male's coming of age. The word man is used to mean any adult male. In English-speaking countries, many other words can also be used to mean an adult male such as guy, dude, buddy, bloke, fellow, chap and sometimes boy or lad, such as boys' night out. The term manhood is associated with masculinity and virility, which refer to male qualities and male gender roles.
With advancing civilization, certain tribes put the severe marriage tests of male endurance in the hands of the women; they thus were able to favor the men of their choice. These marriage tests embraced skill in hunting, fighting, and ability to provide for a family. The groom was long required to enter the bride's family for at least one year, there to live and labor and prove that he was worthy of the wife he sought.
- Andrew Perchuk, Simon Watney, Bell Hooks, The Masculine Masquerade: Masculinity and Representation, MIT Press 1995
- Pierre Bourdieu, Masculine Domination, Paperback Edition, Stanford University Press 2001
- Robert W. Connell, Masculinities, Cambridge : Polity Press, 1995
- Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power Berkley Trade, 1993 ISBN 0-425-18144-8
- Michael Kimmel (ed.), Robert W. Connell (ed.), Jeff Hearn (ed.), Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities, Sage Publications 2004