The man got me down
Posted: 10 August 2007 05:02 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The man got me down! I helped him back up though.

Where does the phrase “The man’s got me down’ come from? Who is ‘the man’? Why does he get people down? Why do people need to help him back up?

Thank you for your help. I want ice cream.

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Posted: 10 August 2007 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Speaking purely from my own experience, “The man” was slang for police in the sixties. It later generalized along the lines of “the establishment” to mean the existing socio-political structure. If the man’s got you down, then the social structure you’re in has you down.

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Posted: 10 August 2007 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well, today the man has me up out of bed for breakfast. I’m eating,

Cheerios.

Thewsie

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Posted: 13 August 2007 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The Velvet Underground had the song “Waiting for the Man” meaning a drug dealer. 1967 I think.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 01:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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From OED

Man, n.1, 18

b. colloq. (chiefly U.S.). A person in authority; spec. a prison warder or governor; a policeman; an employer, a boss.
1918 G. M. BATTEY 70,000 Miles in Submarine Destroyer (1919) 302 Any body in authority is ‘the man’. 1928 R. FISHER Walls of Jericho 306 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?’ 1933 Amer. Speech 8 III. 29/2 Unuther goddam word out o’ you-all, an’ Ah’ll send ev’ry goddam one of ye up t’ the Man. 1936 W. CUMMING in D. G. McLean Hist. Fordyce Acad. 127 He asked leave from the ‘man’, Mr. Innes; he put his request so politely..that the dominie always granted the request. 1962 Amer. Speech 37 270 Man, a policeman. A word used by teen-age drivers. ‘When I heard the siren, I knew it was the Man.’ 1974 R. THOMAS Porkchoppers xi. 98 They’ll be on my back for telling them something that they don’t think the man needs to know. 1995 Coloradoan (Fort Collins) 2 July E4/2 It was a vicarious way of powerless people being able to stick it to the Man.

d. colloq. (chiefly U.S.). A drug dealer.
1942 L. V. BERREY & M. VAN DEN BARK Amer. Thes. Slang §510/3 Narcotic trafficker,..hop merchant..,man,..peddler. 1953 W. S. BURROUGHS Junkie ix. 87 When I first hit New Orleans, the main pusher{em}or ‘the Man’, as they say there{em}was a character called Yellow. 1953 W. S. BURROUGHS Junkie Gloss. 14 ‘The Man’, junk seller. ‘The Man’ is a New Orleans expression, and can also refer to a Narcotics Agent. 1967 L. REED in Between Thought & Expression (1993) 4 I’m waiting for my man Twenty-six dollars in my hand Up to Lexington 1-2-5 Feeling sick and dirty more dead than alive. 1973 Black World Nov. 92/2 Their writing mainly concerns the street life{em}the pimp, the junky, the forces of drug addiction, exploitation at the hands of ‘the man’. 1995 Independent 27 Apr. 22/7, I burnt my finger on a roach while I was waiting for the man to come across with my skunk.

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