- off aff. a combining form ofmanlayman; postman[/ex]•usage: The use of -man as the last element in compounds referring to a person of either sex who performs some function (anchorman; chairman; spokesman) has declined in recent years. In some instances the sex-neutral -person is substituted for -man (anchorperson; spokesperson), and sometimes a form with no suffix at all is used (anchor; chair). Terms ending in -man that designate specific occupations (foreman; mailman; policeman, etc.) have been dropped by the U.S. government in favor of neutral terms, and many industries and business firms have done likewise. The compounds freshman, underclassman, and upperclassman are still generally used in schools, freshman in Congress also, and they are applied to both sexes. The term first-year student is increasingly common as an alternative to freshman. As a modifier, freshman is used with both singular and plural nouns: a freshman athlete; freshman legislators. See also man, -person, -woman
From formal English to slang. 2014.