ANSWERS: 6
  • It was used as the name of a couple of films, one made in 1945 and the other in 1952. It was used as the name of a documentary television series in the UK that began in 1965 and aired for several years. It was also the name of a highly-respected documentary series on Canadian television that focussed on faith and spirituality. It was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and ran for 30 seasons, beginning in 1967. "Man Alive" positioned itself as a non-denominational observer of the diverse human activities that are directly inspired from humanity's religious activities and spiritual beliefs.
  • "Man Alive!" as an expletive to express shock or amazement seems to have originated in the early 1800s, along with terms like "Land sakes!" These phrases and others were developed because Queen Victoria was notorious for her disapproval of cursing or taking God's name in vain. It became more proper to say "Man Alive!" than "Oh my God!" Please see www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=20000417 for some literary uses of "Alive!" "Woman alive!" and "Man Alive!" in the 19th century.
  • "Man alive" actually was a seaman's term. It was an exclamation used, for instance, when a crew came upon a shipwreck to signify that there was at least one survivor.
  • I also believe this is a seafarer's term originally. I grew up in Michigan (surrounded by the great lakes, which are as big as oceans if you don't know the difference!) and we used this phrase regularly. The only other people I've ever run into (I've now lived in oregon for 35 years) who say this phrase also grew up or live for lengths of time in Michigan. There were a great many shipwrecks in the Great Lakes historically. I don't know that it is limited to just shipwrecks, as occasionally there was an accidental fall overboard and if the man surfaced, it was the duty of another on board to yell to the captain "man alive!"
  • LynfromNM is right, but there's another piece to the puzzle. "Man alive!" is a literal translation of the Welsh phrase "Dyn byw!" which is a euphemism (polite phrase) for "Duw!" meaning "God!" Since is rhymes with "Duw!" (pronounced "dyoo") and starts with D, listeners knew what phrase was intended. As Welsh moved to England and America in large numbers and adopted English, they began saying "Man alive!" in place of "Dyn byw!" and the phrase passed into common usage.
  • I had a friend from Blackpool who used to say it all the time. Not sure if that means it's popular amongst people from Blackpool or not. There you go! Was great to read the other explanations on this page :) It's also the name of a book by G K Chesterton.

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