Origins of “Man”

The English term “Man” (from Proto-Germanic mannaz “man, person”) and words derived therefrom can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their gender or age. This is indeed the oldest usage of “Man” in English. This derives from a Proto-Indo-European root “man-” meaning hand. A similar cognate is Old Norse “mund”, hand, as well as most Romance words for “hand”, such as French main and Portuguese mão. The distinctive and dexterous hands of humans, compared to those of other animals, are the basis of this term and the similarly derived term, “manual” (from Latin “Manus”, hand), by hand.

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