A man's man is

a man who enjoys being with other men and doing sports and activities with them, and is popular with men rather than women.

and a ladies' man is

a man who is popular with women and who likes to go out with a lot of different women.
---- Cited from Longman dictionary.

My questions are:

  1. We usually use "men and women" or "ladies and gentlemen". But why we use "a man's man" and "a ladies' man", but not "a woman's man" or "a gentlemen's man"?

  2. Can similar phrases be used to describe a woman? If yes, what are they, "She is a man's man", "She is a man's lady" or "She is a man's woman?"

  3. Can "a man's man" be used to describe a boy or a girl? Which of the following saying do you prefer: "The boy is a man's man", "The boy is a man's boy", "The boy is a boys' man", or "The boy is a boys' boy"?

  4. Why the word "man" is in single form in "a man's man", but the word "ladies" is in plural form in "a ladies' man"?

3 Answers 3

  1. These are set expressions, so we'd better use them as the dictionaries suggest. However, in "Staying Alive", Bee Gees sang, "I'm a woman's man, no time to talk." Generally speaking, lady is a more polite way of referring to a woman.
  2. Here is one word I can think of to describe a girl who prefers to be around boys:

Tomboy - a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities traditionally associated with boys

Be careful with phrases like "a man's woman." Unlike the phrases from question 1, these phrases are not set expressions. And their use can easily lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

  1. A man's man is always a man. If it's said to describe a boy, then it's said with humor.

  2. Again, it's just a matter of collocations. By the way, you can say "a ladies' man" as well as "a lady's man", but you can only say "a man's man." Why? These are set expressions.

  • I feel the word "tomboy" is something about behavior (act like a boy), but what I mean is the relationship (act with boys, have a good friendship with boys).
    – Kyno
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 2:48
  • "Generally speaking, lady is a more polite way of referring to a woman." Not universally. In American English saying something like "Hey, lady, will you..." is rude. See definition 1.2 here.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 2:59
  • @Laurel good point. But I said "generally speaking"
    – Enguroo
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 3:37
  • @Kyno Right... to be honest, no set expression comes to mind.
    – Enguroo
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 3:39
  • 1
    @Jasper yes, quite right. Grammatically, “a men’s woman” = “a men’s room”. Semantically, let’s not go there. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 7:12

"A man's man" is a man that other men would like to be. For example, they admire his strength, courage, wisdom, and success. The expression is phrased in terms of whom a hypothetical individual man would like to be. In this context, it is not possible for multiple men to be the same man.

"A ladies' man" is a man who is very popular romantically and/or sexually with many women. One point is that the man does not restrict himself to just one woman. Another point is that the women are of moderate or high status, so the term "lady" is appropriate.


Ladies man enjoys the company of ladies, more so than the company of men. He enjoys the dinners, giving flowers ...as other men find that a means to and end...ladies man truly enjoys the courtship

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