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This Proto-Germanic entry contains reconstructed terms and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



From Proto-Indo-European *mon- or *men-. Alternatively, Kroonen favors the word splitting off from Proto-Indo-European *(dʰ)ǵʰmō, *(dʰ)ǵʰmon- in the cases where the -m- wasn't syllabic (which otherwise gave *gum-, see *gumô), the initial cluster would have been unpronounceable in Germanic, giving a reduced *(-)man-.[1]


*mann- m

  1. human, human being, person, individual
  2. man
  3. (Runic alphabet) name of the M-rune ()


This noun was inflected as a consonant stem, but the daughter languages disagree on the form of the nominative singular. The Gothic form points to a nominative *man(n)ô, as does the rare Old English nominative manna. The north and west Germanic forms, on the other hand, indicate *mannz. Judging from Gothic evidence, the original compounding form was *mana(n)- with only a single -n-, as in 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌰𐍃𐌴𐌸𐍃 (manasēþs, mankind); however, note also 𐌼𐌰𐌽𐌻𐌴𐌹𐌺𐌰 (manleika, portrait).

Several ideas have been proposed to explain the unusual morphology of this word, particularly the geminate -nn-. One proposal is that its stem was manwa- (wa-stem) or manu- (u-stem), where -nw- would have become -nn- through regular sound change in Germanic. This explains the relationship of the noun to cognates elsewhere in Indo-European, but crucially it does not explain the consonant stem inflection.

A more recent proposal is that the noun reflects a root man- to which n-stem endings have been added. These n-stem endings were not the usual type found in Germanic, but a rarer type that lacked a vowel between the root and the stem suffix in some of the forms. This is also seen in *uhsô (which has the stem *uhsn- in the plural), *arô (with *arn-), *berô (with *bern-) and Latin carō (with carn-). The stem without a vowel would have then been *man-n-, to which consonant stem endings would have been added, as n-stems were consonant stems in origin. If this is the case, it would explain the geminate -nn-, the consonant stem endings, and would also account for the n-stem nominative singular found in Gothic and Old English.

consonant stemDeclension of *mann- (consonant stem)
singular plural
nominative *mann-, *manô, *mannô *manniz
vocative *mann *manniz
accusative *mannų *mannunz
genitive *manniz *mannǫ̂
dative *manni *mannumaz
instrumental *mannē *mannumiz


Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Kroonen, Guus (2013) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, →ISBN