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A man
A man

A man is an adult male human.[1][2] Prior to adulthood, a male human is referred to as a boy (a male child or adolescent). Like most other male mammals, a man's genome usually inherits an X chromosome from the mother and a Y chromosome from the father. Sex differentiation of the male fetus is governed by the SRY gene on the Y chromosome. During puberty, hormones which stimulate androgen production result in the development of secondary sexual characteristics, thus exhibiting greater differences between the sexes. These include greater muscle mass, the growth of facial hair and a lower body fat composition.

Male anatomy is distinguished from female anatomy by the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, testicles, sperm duct, prostate gland and the epididymis, as well as secondary sex characteristics.

Trans men have a gender identity that does not align with their female sex assignment at birth, while intersex men may have sex characteristics that do not fit typical notions of male biology.

Etymology and terminology

Further information: Man (word), boy, father, husband, son, godparent, gentleman, and widower

The English term "man" is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž "man, male").[3] More directly, the word derives from Old English mann. The Old English form primarily meant "person" or "human being" and referred to men, women, and children alike. The Old English word for "man" as distinct from "woman" or "child" was wer. Mann only came to mean "man" in Middle English, replacing wer, which survives today only in the compounds "werewolf" (from Old English werwulf, literally "man-wolf"), and "wergild", literally "man-payment".[4][5][6]


Main articles: Secondary sexual characteristics and Sex differences in humans

Karyogram of a human male using Giemsa staining. Human males typically possess an XY combination.
Karyogram of a human male using Giemsa staining. Human males typically possess an XY combination.

In humans, sperm cells normally carry either an X or a Y sex chromosome. If a sperm cell carrying a Y chromosome fertilizes the female ova, the offspring will be male (XY). The SRY gene is normally found on the Y chromosome and is the testis determining factor that governs male sex differentiation. Sex differentiation in males proceeds in a testes dependent way while female differentiation is not gonad dependent.[7]

Humans exhibit sexual dimorphism in many characteristics, many of which have no direct link to reproductive ability, although most of these characteristics do have a role in sexual attraction. Most expressions of sexual dimorphism in humans are found in height, weight, and body structure, though there are always examples that do not follow the overall pattern. For example, men tend to be taller than women, but there are many people of both sexes who are in the mid-height range for the species.[8]

Photograph of an adult male human (right side of image), with an adult female for comparison.(left side of image)  Note that the pubic hair of both models is removed.
Photograph of an adult male human (right side of image), with an adult female for comparison.(left side of image) Note that the pubic hair of both models is removed.

Primary sex characteristics (or sex organs) are characteristics that are present at birth and are integral to the reproductive process. For men, primary sex characteristics include the penis and testicles. Secondary sex characteristics are features that appear during puberty in humans.[9][10] Such features are especially evident in the sexually dimorphic phenotypic traits that distinguish between the sexes, but—unlike the primary sex characteristics—are not directly part of the reproductive system.[11][12][13] Secondary sexual characteristics that are specific to men include:

Reproductive system

Main article: Male reproductive system

A lateral cutaway of the human male lower abdomen, showing the human male reproductive system anatomy
A lateral cutaway of the human male lower abdomen, showing the human male reproductive system anatomy

The male reproductive system includes external and internal genitalia. The male external genitalia consist of the penis, the male urethra, and the scrotum, while the male internal genitalia consist of the testes, the prostate, the epididymis, the seminal vesicle, the vas deferens, the ejaculatory duct, and the bulbourethral gland.[15]

The male reproductive system's function is to produce semen, which carries sperm and thus genetic information that can unite with an egg within a woman. Since sperm that enters a woman's uterus and then fallopian tubes goes on to fertilize an egg which develops into a fetus or child, the male reproductive system plays no necessary role during the gestation. The study of male reproduction and associated organs is called andrology.[16]

Sex hormones

Testosterone stimulates the development of the Wolffian ducts, the penis, and closure of the labioscrotal folds into the scrotum. Another significant hormone in sexual differentiation is the anti-Müllerian hormone, which inhibits the development of the Müllerian ducts. For males during puberty, testosterone, along with gonadotropins released by the pituitary gland, stimulates spermatogenesis.[17]


Further information: Gender disparities in health and Men's health

While a majority of the global health gender disparities is weighted against women, there are situations in which men tend to fare poorer. One such instance is armed conflicts, where men are often the immediate victims. A study of conflicts in 13 countries from 1955 to 2002 found that 81% of all violent war deaths were male.[18] Apart from armed conflicts, areas with high incidence of violence, such as regions controlled by drug cartels, also see men experiencing higher mortality rates.[19] This stems from social beliefs that associate ideals of masculinity with aggressive, confrontational behavior.[20] Lastly, sudden and drastic changes in economic environments and the loss of social safety nets, in particular social subsidies and food stamps, have also been linked to higher levels of alcohol consumption and psychological stress among men, leading to a spike in male mortality rates. This is because such situations often makes it harder for men to provide for their family, a task that has been long regarded as the "essence of masculinity."[21] A retrospective analyses of people infected with the common cold found that doctors underrate the symptoms of men, and are more willing to attribute symptoms and illness to women than men.[22] Women live longer than men in all countries, and across all age groups, for which reliable records exist.[23] In the United States, men are less healthy than women across all social classes. Non-white men are especially unhealthy. Men are over-represented in dangerous occupations and represent a majority of on the job deaths. Further, medical doctors provide men with less service, less advice, and spend less time with men than they do with women per medical encounter.[24]

Sexuality and gender

Further information: Human male sexuality and Trans man

Male sexuality and attraction vary from person to person, and a man's sexual behavior can be affected by many factors, including evolved predispositions, personality, upbringing, and culture. While the majority of men are heterosexual, significant minorities are homosexual or bisexual.[25]

Trans men have a male gender identity that does not align with their female sex assignment at birth and may undergo masculinizing hormone replacement therapy and/or sex reassignment surgery, while intersex men may have sex characteristics that do not fit typical notions of male biology.[26] A 2016 systemic review estimated that 0.256% of people self-identify as female-to-male transgender.[27] A 2017 survey of 80,929 Minnesota students found that roughly twice as many female-assigned adolescents self-identified as transgender, compared to adolescents with a male sex assignment.[28]

Social role


Main article: Masculinity

Michelangelo's David is the classical image of youthful male beauty in Western art.
Michelangelo's David is the classical image of youthful male beauty in Western art.

Masculinity (also sometimes called manhood or manliness) is the set of personality traits and attributes associated with boys and men. Although masculinity is socially constructed,[29] some research indicates that some behaviors considered masculine are biologically influenced.[30] To what extent masculinity is biologically or socially influenced is subject to debate.[30] It is distinct from the definition of the biological male sex, as both males and females can exhibit masculine traits.[31] Men generally face social stigma for embodying feminine traits, more so than women do for embodying masculine traits.[32] This can also manifest as homophobia.[33]

Standards of manliness or masculinity vary across different cultures and historical periods.[34] While the outward signs of masculinity look different in different cultures, there are some common aspects to its definition across cultures. In all cultures in the past, and still among traditional and non-Western cultures, getting married is the most common and definitive distinction between boyhood and manhood.[35] In the late 20th century, some qualities traditionally associated with marriage (such as the "triple Ps" of protecting, providing, and procreating) were still considered signs of having achieved manhood.[35][36]


Platonic relationships are not significantly different between men and women, though some differences do exist. Friendships involving men tend to be based more on shared activities than self-disclosure and personal connection. Perceptions of friendship involving men varies among cultures and time periods.[37] In heterosexual romantic relationships, men are typically expected to take a proactive role, initiate the relationship, plan dates, and propose marriage.[38]


Anthropology has shown that masculinity itself has social status, just like wealth, race and social class. In Western culture, for example, greater masculinity usually brings greater social status. Many English words such as virtue and virile (from the Indo-European root vir meaning man) reflect this.[39][40] In most cultures, male privilege allows men more rights and privileges than women. In societies where men are not given special legal privileges, they typically hold more positions of power, and men are seen as being taken more seriously in society.[41] This is associated with a "gender-role strain" in which men face increased societal pressure to conform to gender roles.[42]

Entertainment and media

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Media portrayals of men often replicate traditional understanding of masculinity. Men are portrayed more frequently in television than women and most commonly appear as leads in action and drama programming. Men are typically more active in television programming than women and typically hold more power and status. Due to their prominence, men are more likely to be both the objects and instigators of humorous or disparaging content. Fathers are often portrayed in television as either idealized and caring or clumsy and inept. In advertising, men are disproportionately featured in advertisements for alcohol, vehicles, and business products.[43]


In most societies, men have more legal and cultural rights than women,[41] and misogyny is far more prevalent than misandry in society.[44][45] Men typically receive less support after being victims of sexual assault, and rape of males is stigmatized.[46] Domestic violence against men is similarly stigmatized.[47] Opponents of circumcision describe it as a human rights violation.[48] The fathers' rights movement seeks to support separated fathers that do not receive equal rights to care for their children.[49] The men's movement is the response to issues faced by men in Western countries. It includes pro-feminist groups such as the men's liberation movement and anti-feminist groups such as the manosphere and the men's rights movement.

Sex symbol

The Mars symbol (♂) is a common symbol that represents the male sex.[50] The symbol is identical to the planetary symbol of Mars.[51] It was first used to denote sex by Carl Linnaeus in 1751.[52] The symbol is sometimes seen as a stylized representation of the shield and spear of the Roman god Mars. According to Stearn, however, this derivation is "fanciful" and all the historical evidence favours "the conclusion of the French classical scholar Claude de Saumaise" that it is derived from θρ, the contraction of a Greek name for the planet Mars, which is Thouros.[53]

See also


  1. ^ "man". Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Definition of MAN". Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  3. ^ American Heritage Dictionary, Appendix I: Indo-European Roots. man-1 Archived 19 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 22 July 2007.
  4. ^ Rauer, Christine (January 2017). "Mann and Gender in Old English Prose: A Pilot Study". Neophilologus. 101 (1): 139–158. doi:10.1007/s11061-016-9489-1. hdl:10023/8978. S2CID 55817181.
  5. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary s.v. "man" Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  6. ^ "wergeld | Etymology, origin and meaning of wergeld by etymonline". Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  7. ^ Rey, Rodolfo; Josso, Nathalie; Racine, Chrystèle (2000). "Sexual Differentiation". Endotext., Inc.|pmid=25905232 |quote= Irrespective of their chromosomal constitution, when the gonadal primordia differentiate into testes, all internal and external genitalia develop following the male pathway. When no testes are present, the genitalia develop along the female pathway. The existence of ovaries has no effect on fetal differentiation of the genitalia. The paramount importance of testicular differentiation for fetal sex development has prompted the use of the expression "sex determination" to refer to the differentiation of the bipotential or primitive gonads into testes.))}
  8. ^ Wells, Jonathan C. K. (1 September 2007). "Sexual dimorphism of body composition". Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Normal and Abnormal Sex Development. 21 (3): 415–430. doi:10.1016/j.beem.2007.04.007. ISSN 1521-690X.
  9. ^ Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM (2011). Williams Textbook of Endocrinology E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 1054. ISBN 978-1437736007.
  10. ^ Pack PE (2016). CliffsNotes AP Biology, 5th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 219. ISBN 978-0544784178.
  11. ^ Bjorklund DF, Blasi CH (2011). Child and Adolescent Development: An Integrated Approach. Cengage Learning. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-1133168379.
  12. ^ a b "Primary & Secondary Sexual Characteristics". 30 April 2018.
  13. ^ Encyclopedia of Reproduction. Elsevier Science. 2018. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-12-815145-7.
  14. ^ a b Berger, Kathleen Stassen (2005). The Developing Person Through the Life Span. Worth Publishers. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-7167-5706-1.
  15. ^ "Definition of Male genitalia". MedicineNet.
  16. ^ Clement, Pierre; Giuliano, François (2015). "Anatomy and physiology of genital organs - men". Handbook of Clinical Neurology. 130: 19–37. doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-63247-0.00003-1. ISSN 0072-9752. PMID 26003237.
  17. ^ Goodman, H. Maurice (2009). Basic Medical Endocrinology (4th ed.). Elsevier. pp. 239–256. ISBN 9780123739759.
  18. ^ The World Bank (2012). World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development (Report). Washington, DC: The World Bank.
  19. ^ "Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980-2008" United States Department of Justice (2010) p. 10
  20. ^ Márquez, Patricia (1999). The Street Is My Home: Youth and Violence in Caracas. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  21. ^ Brainerd, Elizabeth; Cutler, David (2005). "Autopsy on an Empire: Understanding Mortality in Russia and the Former Soviet Union". Ann Arbor, MI: William Davidson Institute. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Sue, Kyle (2017). "The science behind 'man flu.'" (PDF). BMJ. 359: j5560. doi:10.1136/bmj.j5560. PMID 29229663. S2CID 3381640. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 December 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  23. ^ Austad, S.N.A; Bartke, A.A. (2016). "Sex Differences in Longevity and in Responses to Anti-Aging Interventions: A Mini-Review". Gerontology. 62 (1): 40–6. doi:10.1159/000381472. PMID 25968226.
  24. ^ Williams, David R. (May 2003). "The Health of Men: Structured Inequalities and Opportunities". Am J Public Health. 93 (5): 724–731. doi:10.2105/ajph.93.5.724. PMC 1447828. PMID 12721133.
  25. ^ Bailey, J. Michael; Vasey, Paul; Diamond, Lisa; Breedlove, S. Marc; Vilain, Eric; Epprecht, Marc (2016). "Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science". Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 17 (2): 45–101. doi:10.1177/1529100616637616. PMID 27113562.
  26. ^ "what are Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity". APA. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  27. ^ Collin, Lindsay; Reisner, Sari L.; Tangpricha, Vin; Goodman, Michael (2016). "Prevalence of Transgender Depends on the "Case" Definition: A Systematic Review". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 13 (4): 613–626. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.02.001. PMC 4823815. PMID 27045261.
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  29. ^ Shehan, Constance L. (2018). Gale Researcher Guide for: The Continuing Significance of Gender. Gale, Cengage Learning. pp. 1–5. ISBN 9781535861175.
  30. ^ a b Social vs biological citations:
  31. ^ Male vs Masculine/Feminine:
  32. ^ Helgeson 2017, pp. 33–34.
  33. ^ Helgeson 2017, p. 146–149.
  34. ^ Kimmel, Michael S.; Aronson, Amy, eds. (2004). Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural, and Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. xxiii. ISBN 978-1-57-607774-0.
  35. ^ a b Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen (1998). "Learning to Stand Alone: The Contemporary American Transition to Adulthood in Cultural and Historical Context". Human Development. 41 (5–6): 295–315. doi:10.1159/000022591. ISSN 0018-716X. S2CID 143862036.
  36. ^ Gilmore, David D. (1990). Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity. Yale University Press. pp. 48. ISBN 0-300-05076-3.
  37. ^ Helgeson 2017, pp. 494–499.
  38. ^ Helgeson 2017, pp. 571–574.
  39. ^ "Virtue (2009)". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  40. ^ "Virile (2009)". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2009.
  41. ^ a b Helgeson 2017, pp. 45–48.
  42. ^ Helgeson 2017, p. 119–121.
  43. ^ Fejes, Fred J. (1992). "Considering Men and the Media". In Craig, Steve (ed.). Masculinity as Fact: A Review of Empirical Mass Communication Research on Masculinity. SAGE Publications. pp. 9–22. ISBN 9780803941632.
  44. ^ Ouellette, Marc (2007). "Misandry". In Flood, Michael; et al. (eds.). International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities. Abingdon, UK; New York, N.Y.: Routledge. pp. 442–3. ISBN 978-0-415-33343-6.
  45. ^ Gilmore, David D. (2010). Misogyny: The Male Malady. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 9780812200324.
  46. ^ Rabin, Roni Caryn (23 January 2012). "Men Struggle for Rape Awareness". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  47. ^ Migliaccio, Todd A. (Winter 2001). "Marginalizing the Battered Male". The Journal of Men's Studies. 9 (2): 205–226. doi:10.3149/jms.0902.205. S2CID 145293675. (subscription required)
  48. ^ Jacobs, Allan J.; Arora, Kavita Shah (1 February 2015). "Ritual Male Infant Circumcision and Human Rights". The American Journal of Bioethics. 15 (2): 30–39. doi:10.1080/15265161.2014.990162. ISSN 1526-5161. PMID 25674955.
  49. ^ Flood, Michael (1 December 2012). "Separated fathers and the 'fathers' rights' movement". Journal of Family Studies. 18 (2–3): 235–345. doi:10.5172/jfs.2012.18.2-3.235. ISSN 1322-9400.
  50. ^ Schott, G D (24 December 2005). "Sex symbols ancient and modern: their origins and iconography on the pedigree". BMJ: British Medical Journal. 331 (7531): 1509–1510. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1509. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 1322246. PMID 16373733.
  51. ^ "Solar System Symbols". NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  52. ^ Stearn, William T. (May 1962). "The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology" (PDF). Taxon. 11 (4): 109–113. doi:10.2307/1217734. ISSN 0040-0262. JSTOR 1217734. Their first biological use is in the Linnaean dissertation Plantae hybridae xxx sistit J. J. Haartman (1751) where in discussing hybrid plants Linnaeus denoted the supposed female parent species by the sign ♀, the male parent by the sign ♂, the hybrid by ☿: 'matrem signo ♀, patrem ♂ & plantam hybridam ☿ designavero'. In subsequent publications he retained the signs ♀ and ♂ for male and female individuals but discarded ☿ for hybrids.
  53. ^ Stearn, William T. (1962). "The Origin of the Male and Female Symbols of Biology". Taxon. 11 (4): 109–113. doi:10.2307/1217734. ISSN 0040-0262. JSTOR 1217734.


Further reading