manners maketh man

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Donnangelo, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Donnangelo Member

    Uruguay, spanish
    Hi for all!! Does anybodye know what the expression "manners maketh man" means?? This is the context:

    If "manners maketh man" as someone said
    Then he's the hero of the day

    It is a Sting's song. Thanks!!!!
  2. Mister Micawber

    Mister Micawber Senior Member

    USA, English
    Manners maketh man.

    William of Wykeham (1324 - 1404), Motto of Winchester College and New College, Oxford

    It is by politeness, etiquette and charity that society is saved from falling into a heap of savagery.
  3. Donnangelo Member

    Uruguay, spanish
    Thanks a lot!! But...what manners and maketh mean by themselves?
  4. Mister Micawber

    Mister Micawber Senior Member

    USA, English
    Manners = polite behaviour; etiquette
    Maketh is the old 3rd person present form of make. Nowadays, it would be written something like: 'Manners make us human'.
  5. Donnangelo Member

    Uruguay, spanish
    Thank you for your help!!!!
  6. Istarion Senior Member

    Paris, France
    British English
    Is it awful of me to dredge up this 2-year-old thread? I came upon it as the top result in a Google search, so this is for the benefit of any others who might do the same.

    The responses to this post, I think, have missed the very thing which makes this quote so brilliant - the double meaning. Nowadays it perhaps doesn't sound so plausible, but in the late 14th Century reversal of word orders was exceedingly common.

    The meaning we all see, "Manners are the basis of our society", is probably also the meaning our 14th Century collegians would have noticed first, but being Oxford students they can hardly have failed to spot soon afterwards that there is an obvious second meaning, "Manners are created by our society".

    What they made of this double meaning, it's difficult to say. Certainly our friend Mr. "of Wykeham" :)p) was being rather clever when he thought up the motto. The first meaning interacts with the second to add a very definitely philosophical slant - the kind of thing which leaves you in a thoughtful mood for the rest of the day! I shan't try to propose any sort of explanation or thesis on the possible interpretations and intentions other than what I already have: suffice it to say that there is definitely more here than meets the eye.

    Unless, of course, the college founder himself was unaware of this possible interpretation - in which case I apologize all the more for my unnecessary post ;).

  7. Suburbantarzan New Member

    Guys- I don't fault the Uruguyan guy for not understanding this, but the word "manners" is not meant to reflect table manners and saying please and thank you and calling your elders Sir and Mam. Does anyone actually think that this would "make the man"? Ha.

    No, manners refers to "mannerisms" or characteristics. There is more than a subtle difference, with the latter referring to gentlemanliness. A sense of fair play. Doing the right thing on all occasions. Being beyond moral reproach.

    Translate: Your mannerisms and behavioral characteristics make you who you are.
  8. Ailes-Brisées New Member

    ok , so it means "manners makes the man".
    see you.
  9. com_ar New Member

    english uk
    Manners maketh man, is an expression.
    Originally " The word manners maketh man"

    " Man+ners" the word man help to form the word manners.

    Meaning = You cannot be a man if you don't have manners.

    Makes sense?
  10. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I'm sorry, but the word manners is not related to the word 'man'.
    It can be traced back to a Latin word meaning 'hand'. (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary on 'manner'.)

    Man on the other hand, is related various words meaning 'man, male' and has been related to a presumed ancient stem. (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary on 'man'.)

    For an explanation of the verb form, see: maketh / makes [verb endings '-th' & '-s']

    As for the meaning of 'manners' in this context, which is the subject of debate in this thread, the Oxford English Dictionary shows that 'manners' was used with both meanings at the time this phrase originated, the first being closer to what we mean by 'character', the second closer to the modern use of manners, meaning 'etiquette'.

    4.a. A person's habitual behaviour or conduct; morals. Obs.

    5 a. Outward bearing, deportment; a person's characteristic style of attitude, gesture, or speech.
    In current use, the intended meaning is likely to be a reference to knowledge and practice of social customs. However, you will have to look at the context to know for certain.
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  11. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    English (American)
    I guess I'll be the first person on this thread to admit that he didn't know "manners" could be singular, and assumed that "maketh" was an uneducated error for "make" by somebody who wanted to sound old-timey. But, sure enough, the OED has "pl. (†formerly also sing.)".
  12. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "Maketh" could be plural as well as singular too, Glen;).
  13. com_ar New Member

    english uk

    The original post is about the popular expresión." Manners maketh man", not about the meaning of the word manner

    If you like the etymology of the word just refer to the dictionary
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2015
  14. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US

    I was responding to your post #9, but I seem to have misunderstood your intended meaning.

    Yes, you are correct; etymologies are included in some dictionaries.
  15. aasheq Senior Member

    London, UK
    English (Estuary)
    -eth is third person singular only. Glen is right: in older English "manners" could be used as a singular.
  16. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    From A History of the English Language, by Albert C Baugh and Thomas Cable (page 185):
    See also the text linked by veli in the other thread mentioned by Cagey (extract here):)
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  17. twins1 Senior Member

    < This thread has been added to a previous thread. Please scroll up and read from the top. Cagey, moderator. >

    1-Manners maketh man.
    2- Manners make man.

    My questions:
    a- Can I use both forms (I mean 1 and 2)
    b- Why maketh with "th"? Is that because it's an old saying.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2015
  18. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
  19. twins1 Senior Member

    Thank you very much.
  20. perpend

    perpend Banned

    American English
    I'm torn on this. 2) seems okay for me when you think of "man" as "mankind", or do we not do that in English. :confused:

    Of course, idiomatic would be: Manners make the man.

    But, that sort of changes the context.
  21. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    That's the only way I've ever heard it.
  22. twins1 Senior Member

    Thank you very much.

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