Online Writing Lab Recommends the Word “Man” Be Avoided in Formal & Professional Writing


Purdue Online Writing Lab, a citation website available for free to the general public has recommended dropping the word “man” from formal and professional writing.

“Although man in its original sense carried the dual meaning of adult human and adult male, its meaning has come to be so closely identified with adult male that the generic use of MAN and other words with masculine markers should be avoided,” the site says.

The site recommends replacing terms that include the word “man” with non-gender specific terms.  Formal recommendations include replacing “mankind” with “humanity,” “man-made” with “synthetic or machine-made,” and “the common man” with the “average person.”

The site now considers certain occupational terms to be “gendered,” and also recommends their replacement.  Steward and stewardess, and policeman and policewoman should be replaced with flight attendant and police officer, the site recommends.

Purdue Online Writing Lab is provided by Purdue University.  It is considered an authoritative resource and is visited by students, professionals and anyone who seeks writing guidance and advice.  It surpassed 410 million page views in 2016, a 30% increase in traffic.


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