-man

-man
a combining form of man: layman; postman.
Usage. The use of -MAN as the last element in compounds referring to a person of either sex who performs some function (anchorman; chairman; spokesman) has declined a great deal in recent years. Only if the reference is to a specific male person are such compounds still widely used: Roy Johnston, Channel 83 news anchorman. Sometimes the sex-neutral -person is substituted for -MAN when the sex of the individual involved is unknown or irrelevant: anchorperson; chairperson; spokesperson. Often when a specific woman is involved, the suffix -woman is used: Doris Powell, Channel 83 news anchorwoman. And sometimes, when possible, a form with no suffix at all is used: Roy Johnston, Channel 83 news anchor.
All terms historically ending in -MAN that designate specific occupations (foreman; mailman; policeman; repairman; etc.) were dropped in favor of sex-neutral terms in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor in 1977. DOT terms for the occupations listed above are supervisor, mail or letter carrier, police officer (or just officer), repairer (as in radio repairer). Many industries and business firms have adopted similar sex-neutral occupational titles.
One -MAN compound, freshman, is still the term generally used in high schools and colleges and in Congress, and it is applied to both sexes. As a modifier, the singular form freshman is used with both singular and plural nouns: a freshman athlete; freshman legislators. See also chairperson, man, -person, -woman.

* * *

comb. form in nouns denoting
a male of a specified nationality or origin

Frenchman | Yorkshireman

a man belonging to a distinct specified group

layman

a person, esp. a male, having a specified occupation or role

exciseman | chairman | oarsman

a ship of a specified kind

merchantman

••
Usage
Traditionally, the form -man was combined with other words to create a term denoting an occupation or role, as in fireman, layman, chairman, and mailman. As the role of women in society has changed, with the result that women are now more likely to be in roles previously held exclusively by men, many of these terms ending in -man have been challenged as sexist and out of date. As a result, there has been a gradual shift away from -man compounds except where referring to a specific male person. Gender-neutral terms such as firefighter and mail carrier are widely accepted alternatives. And new terms such as chairperson, layperson, and spokesperson, which only a few decades ago seemed odd or awkward, are common today

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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