You're the man! -- You da man!

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You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by HANGNAM » Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:41 pm

Dear friends!

- I often hear the phrase "You're the man!" in many American movies and often said by young people, so what does it mean?

Thanks a lot!


Re: You're the man! [You da man!]

Post by trolley » Fri Sep 12, 2008 6:22 pm

It is an expression of praise. "You're the best", " You're someone to be reckoned with", " You're someone who can get stuff done", " You're the boss". I'm not sure if there is any relation to "the Man" that we referred to when we were growing up in the seventies. If there is, it seems a little strange because that "man" was not someone that you wanted to be compared to. Then, the man was the government, or the fuzz (cops), or the general "establishment". The man was always trying to keep us down. One morning you wake up and you are the man. Ah, the circle of life!

Re: You're the man! [You da man!]

Post by JerrySmile » Fri Sep 12, 2008 6:33 pm

IMO, sometimes it may mean "you're the appropriate person (for something)."

Re: You're the man! [You da man!]

Post by PhilHunt » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:13 pm

trolley wrote: I'm not sure if there is any relation to "the Man" that we referred to when we were growing up in the seventies.
Depends which 'man' from the seventies you are referring to. When Lou Reed sang "I'm waiting for my man", I don't think he was waiting for a government official but rather the 'candy man' to sell him some snow cones or happy trails or star-spangled powder, man. :)
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: You're the man! [You da man!]

Post by trolley » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:22 pm

Yes, Jerry. There is that “appropriate person” connotation. Around here, at least, that would come into play more often when referring someone to someone else.
“ I’d like to know the origin of this phrase”
“ Well then, Ken is your ( or “the” ) man”
“ The phrase first appeared yada….yada….yada…..”
“You’re the man”

Re: You're the man!

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:54 pm

Han et al, I think that Trolley had it about right and all that is left for me to do is fill in the dictionaryography as concisely as possible. (<;)

YOU’RE THE MAN, YOU THE MAN, and YOU DA MAN was discussed by lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower, now Editor at Large of the Oxford English Dictionary, in a 1999 Word Maven’s Word of the Day:
<1999 you the man . . . “While this use [[‘a person (esp. a man) who is highly respected; a person of great accomplishment;’ an exemplary person]] dates to the early 1950s in jazz circles, the affirmation ‘You the man!’ appears to have gotten popular in the mainstream only since the early 1990s. The expression originated among black speakers, and the use of the verb-less ‘You the man’ instead of ‘you're the man,’ and the pronunciation ‘You da man,’ are both intended to reflect a common Black English usage. . . .”—Word Maven’s Word of the Day, 10 September>

The earliest example I found, in the sense we are interested in, was in the form HE’S THE MAN and, as Jesse Sheidlower suggested, it did appear in jazz circles and in reference to the great Black jazz musician Louis Armstrong in a 1952 quote (see below). My next find from some 30 years later was the verbless form YOU THE MAN used by renowned Afro-American author John Wideman in his 1981 novel Damballah (see quote below). And in this same year (1981) I’M THE MAN and HE’S (Richard Pryor's) THE MAN appeared in Time Magazine. However, by far the slangiest and most popular Afro-American form is YOU DA MAN, which appeared in a Sports Illustrated report on a basketball contest in 1983 (see quote below). But as Sheidlower said the expression didn’t really take off and go mainstream until the 1990s when it first caught on in a big way in the game of golf, followed by other sports. It then went on to become a general term for a person who is highly respected in any area. Today, however, in many instances, the power of the phrase has been diluted to where it is often being used as a light-hearted praise for the most mundane of reasons, “Those were excellent donuts you brought for dessert. You da man! ”


18e) MAN U.S. slang (chiefly among African-Americans). A man who is highly respected or accomplished, especially in a particular field. Also in YOU’RE THE MAN (usually in form YOU DA MAN, used to express commendation or approval. [[also YOU THE MAN]]
<1952 “I'm diggin' a lot of Armstrong, 'cause he's the man.”—Flee Angry Strangers by G. Mandel, page 29>

<1959 “s.v. the man . . . any cat who is deserving of great respect, musically or personally . (‘Miles [[Davis]] is the man!’)”—Jazz Lexicon by R. S. Gold>

<circa 1979 “Here it is 1923 . . . Eubie Blake is the man in colored show business.”—Eubie Blake by A. Rose>

<1981 “. . . go on man you got it all you know you the Man . . .”— Damballah by John Wideman, page 163>

<1981 “He thinks Bruce Lee is a cool dude, but ‘Richard Pryor is the Man,’ says Baby Love. ‘He got power.’ . . . A huge dude, his muscles rippling, speaks in a cool bass: ‘I got a pah’ of $600 lizard shoes and I got silk shirts. I'm the Man, boy. I changes my clothes 15 times a day. Learn to hustle girls, and you can wear dark shades and sharkskin suits and ride a big white Caddy.”—Time Magazine, 12 October, page 10>

<1983 “‘O, you da man,’ Assistant Coach Jim Larranaga bellowed when Othell finally made the two free throws that clinched Virginia's 54-49 escape.”—Sports Illustrate, 28 March>

<1990 “Everywhere Watson [[Tom, of golf fame]] walked at Butler National the gallery hailed him with greetings ranging from ‘you're a legend’ and ‘you're the king’ to the newly-popular ‘you the man.’”— Chicago Sun-Times, 10 June>

<1990 “I heard, ‘You da man!’ all day. I got sick of hearing it. An unknown spectator started a tradition last year of screaming, ‘You da man!’”—Chicago Sun-Times, 12 August> [[of golfer Payne Stewart]]

<1992 (advertisement) “‘You da Man!’ The ’92 Draft is upon us. Who got what it takes to make the World Champion Skins? The Post Sportswriters know – and will preview their top choices Tonight at 7 PM on HTS [[cable TV]]”—Washington Post, 20 April, page C10>

<1993 “Spectator at golf tournament (collected by J.Sheidlower): Way to go Fuzzy! You the man!”—Random House Historical Dictionary of Slang, page 512>

<1993 “‘You’re the man, Homer!’ ‘Thanks, boy!’”—The Simpsons (Fox-TV)>

<1996 “‘Everybody hypes Tyson as being the man,’ Hollyfield said. ‘And if you fight the man, you’ll be the man once you beat the man.”—New York Times, page 13>

<1999 “Wild, wild applause. Teenagers are screaming and everyone is yelling, ‘You da man!’”—Boston Globe, 24 September, page C5>

<2000 (article title) “YOU DA MAN! Batman had Robin. Johnny had Ed. Every Alpha needs a Beta, especially on the ego-crushing gauntlet known as the presidential race. Here's a look at . . . the Campaign 2000 sidekicks: . . . Al Gore SIDEKICK: Karenna Gore Schiff, daughter . . . John McCain SIDEKICK: Fred Thompson, Senator, actor . . . “— Time Magazine, 1 February>

<2007 “How J. Crew [[men’s retail giant]] got here traces to Drexler's [[Mickey, CEO]], beloved p.a. system, a technology of choice for the hyper-communicative 62-year-old [[white guy]], who wears jeans and an untucked dress shirt to work and uses phrases like ‘You da man.’”—Time Magazine, 15 March>

<2008 “. . . admirers asked for autographs and called out ‘You da man,’ and Clinton [[Bill campaigning in South Carolina]], wearing a ‘Hillary 2008’ lapel pin, got to talk about his favorite candidate: himself.”—Washington Post, 23 January>

<2008 “As the champagne flowed, there was a bear hug from dad Anthony, a you-da-man embrace from rapper P Diddy, and a kiss from Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.”—Daily Post (Liverpool, England), 27 May>

<2008 “‘YOU DA MAN’ is a shout more commonly heard reverberating around the greens and tees at Sunningdale than down the road at Ascot - but that could all change this Saturday, according to bullish connections of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes second favourite Youmzain.”—The Racing Post (London, England), 21 July>
[[Note: From my experience, I would say, that although the above positive definition of THE MAN appears in the 2008 OED update, this phrase has gone well beyond being chiefly African-American, as claimed, to being a ubiquitous ‘American,’ if not an English’ catchphrase. And in my neck of the woods, even if one doesn’t use it (and I don’t), one would have to be living in a cave not to have heard it. I hear YOU DA MAN (rarely YOU’RE THE MAN) quite often among the very young to the college-age students I work with and from folks in all walks of life who use it as a piece of humorous, Black, hood-sounding English (a history professor in my old fogies men’s group often uses it at out meetings – always with a chuckle). It is used much as the intentional “ain’t,” but is a much greater and colorful attention-getter. I also hear tell that it is widely use in movies and on TV (was/is a favorite of David Letterman?), and I have found many examples of its use from beyond U.S. shores (see quotes below).]]

The road to YOU’RE THE MAN / YOU DA MAN, as defined above, began with the expression THE MAN, which first appeared in print in the 1910s. From the beginning it meant a person of importance in one way or another, but it wasn’t necessarily someone who the person in the weaker position liked or admired, although they might have been covetous of the power. Of course, in many cases this person could be powerful as well as respected and liked (e.g. a respected military commander, a good boss, etc.). But in the 1950s the folks in the jazz world, which was largely African-American, began to use THE MAN, in a new and strictly positive way – a person of musical competence, and accomplishment, and a person to me admired. Jazzman Louis Armstrong (Satchmo) was a shining example and he is the one referred to in the earliest quote using THE MAN in this new sense (see 1952 quote above). And, as the above quotes indicate the expression later (in the 1980s and 1990s) began to be used in the general positive sense as defined by the OED above.

THE MAN noun [1910s and still in use] (originally U.S.): A person (especially a man) or a group in a position of authority, control, power; the one (or those) in charge; originally, a commanding officer (nautical and military) or a prison warden, but later any man, group, or even ‘authority’ itself as an entity— law-enforcement officer (policemen, prison guard), employer, boss, the power structure, the establishment, the government . . . ; chiefly among African-Americans, a white person or white people collectively, especially regarded as an oppressors; crime boss; in narcotics, a drug dealer; . . . . ; someone who is highly respected or accomplished, an exemplary person.
<1918 “Anybody in [[naval]] authority is ‘the man.’”—70000 Miles by Battey, page 302>

<1918 “Another goddam word and out o’ you-all, an’ Ah’ll send ev’ry one of ye up t’ the Man.”—American Speech, October, 1933, page 29> [[the warden]]

<1928 “The man, designation of abstract authority. He who trespasses where a sign forbids is asked: ‘Say, biggy, can't you read THE MAN’S sign?’”—Walls of Jericho, page 306> [[originally Southern & Black English]]

<1936 “He asked leave from theman,’ Mr. Innes; he put his request so politely . . . that the dominie [[schoolmaster] always granted the request.”—W. Cumming in The History of Fordyce Academy [[Scotland]] by D. G. Mclean, page 127>

<1939 “The Man noun: The Officer in Charge or the Officer of the Day, when making an inspection.”—American Speech, Vol. XIV. page 28>

<1952 “Ah ain’t got no hatred, lesson it be de man.”—Stone by Hines, page 209> [[the warden]]

<1962 Man, . . . a policeman. A word used by teen-age drivers. ‘When I heard the siren, I knew it was the Man.’”—American Speech, Vol. 37, page 270>

<1963 “A well-educated Negro said today: ‘The demonstrations, I think, suggested to “The Man” that tokenism won't make it and that he has to come to grips with the problem right now.’ ‘The Man’, in Negro parlance, is the white man.”—New York Tiimes, 18 May, page 12/2>

<1967 (song) “Paranoia strikes deep / Into your life it will creep / It starts when you're always afraid / You step out of line, the man come and take you away”—For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield> [[the police]]

<1968 “The Negroes are keeping their cool . . ., giving the man a chance, . . . They show no vindictiveness toward the new Chief Executive.”—Business Week, 23 November, page 34> [[originally Southern & Black English]]

<1969 “The avowed aim of the 'Yippies' is to destroy ‘the Man’”—U.S. News & World Report> [[the government]

<1970 “‘The Man is repressive. The Man fascist. . . .’ To the bombers and kidnappers the Man is authority. He is every policeman. He is President Nixon. He is Prime Minister Trudeau.”—The Guardian (London),

<1974 “They'll be on my back for telling them something that they don't think the man needs to know.”—The Porkchoppers by R. Thomas, xi. page 98> [[U.K.]]

<1977 “You’re not gonna get in trouble with The Man if you just let him do what he wants. The privileged can always manage to . . . legalize whatever they want.”—Senator J. Abourezk (Democrat of South Dakota) in American Dream by Studs Terkel, page 340>

<1991 “Kathy said, ‘I walked up to the door – it was open and I heard a voice inside say, ‘it’s the Man.’ I weigh a hundred and five, but that’s who I am, the Man.”—Maxium Bob by E. Leonard, page 165>

<2000 “. . . if Tracy McGrady learns to be `The Man', and then if we [[Orlando Magic (National Basketball Association)]] get Grant Hill back healthy next year, we'll be better.”—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin), 31 December>

<2008 “I asked one very tall woman wearing chain mail what she thought of the fan code of conduct. ‘It's bull (rhymes with spit),’ she said, identifying herself as Lady Chains and managing to commit at least three code violations all at once. . . Go. Run free, Lady Chains! Don't let The Man shackle your rebel ways!”—Oakland Tribune (California), 12 September> [[new NFL ‘fan code of conduct’ (no fighting, irresponsible use of alcohol, foul language, crude gestures, taunting opposing fans, . . .) —Hmm! In places like Australia, this would destroy the very essence of the game and, if enforced, they’d soon be playing to empty stadiums! (<;)]]>
(Oxford English Dictionary, Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Oxford Dictionary of Slang, Dictionary of American Regional English, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, and archived sources)

Ken G – September 14, 2008

Re: You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:19 am

Speaking of YOU DA MAN I just noticed the following cartoon in this week’s issue of Newsweek, September 22, 2008:

The usual tiny Bush with ears, longer than the height of his head, sticking out at not quite 90º, is sitting in a chair about twice as high as he is tall. In walks a man delivering a basket of fruit who says ‘Usually around 9-11, he sends a tape . . . ‘

And I says to myself, hmm, O.K. but not that funny. But then I notices a small tag attached to the basket handle with some writing on it, which is far beyond my ability read nowadays. So I picks up my magnifying glass and takes a look and reads the tiny note which says:



Not that bad after all.

Ken G – September 16, 2008

Re: You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by JerrySmile » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:28 am

BTW, in Naked Lunch by Burroughs, The Man is the drug dealer (drug slang).

Re: you da dealer

Post by bebegurl24 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:22 am

I was playing a game on facebook its called friendstock anyways i said thank you to some who boosted me and he repled back and you da dealer does anyone have any idea what that would mean..............thanks

Re: You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by PhilHunt » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:48 pm

You da dealer = You da man = You're the dogs bolloxs.
Signature: That which we cannot speak of, must be passed over in silence...or else tweeted.

Re: You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by daviddylanharris » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:40 pm

Edgar Allan Poe's story "The man that was Used Up," (1839) repeatedly has characters, speaking of a valiant war veteran, saying "he's the man-" and trailing off. This becomes a refrain that is finally completed by the narrator, who says "he's the man... that was used up," but the phrase seems, throughout the story, to have the same connotation as it does today, i.e., he is admirable.

Re: You're the man! -- You da man!

Post by tony h » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:31 am

An interesting observation.
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

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