In the Old Slavonic language, a man was denoted by the majestic word "husband" (mo˛zhь), which most fully revealed the essence of a male person and opposed him to women - wives. “And when Oleg came to Smolensk and put your husband in it” (“The Tale of Bygone Years”).
The word "husband" itself is of Indo-European origin and is related to this word in other languages. For example, with the word man in English. Moreover, often in related languages, the same word or its derivative also denotes a spouse - a man who is the husband of his wife.
In addition to “husband”, to designate the age of a man and indicate his ability to act in Russia, there were such words as “boy”, “youth” and “old man” “and the elder of the Kozarstia:“Not a good tribute to the prince!..”(ibid.).
A man could also be designated by his social status - a slave, servant, prince, warrior.
How did it happen that the biblical "husband" became a man, and then completely - a man, that is, they began to designate him with a word that carries a share of pejorativeness?
Men were "great" and "small"
The philologist Valery Anatolyevich Efremov, who studied the problem of naming a man, in his work "Nominations of a Man in the Russian Language" (the magazine "The World of the Russian Word") indicates that up to the 13th century, a free citizen was called a husband in Russia. Not a slave or servant. Moreover, among the husbands there was a hierarchy.
The annals often spoke of men of "noble", "glorious", "great" and about men of "lesser" or "younger". Obviously, in the latter case, it was not always about the younger generation, but also about simpler people who were also free citizens, but were less responsible to other people and the fatherland and did not have a noble origin.
A man is a community!
Around the 15th century, the word "man" began to appear in chronicles and letters in various variations - "man", "muschina". It is derived from the adjective "muzhsk" by adding the suffix -shchin (a), which has the meaning of collectiveness, generalization (by analogy with Smolensk, foreign or boyarshchina).
Initially, the word "man" was used as a vernacular, but over time it began to enter the colloquial speech of Russian people. Gradually, it lost its original meaning of community and began to mean "male person", by analogy with "woman", "redneck" or "fatherless".
How "husband" became a husband
The division of the semantic meaning of the words "husband" and "man" took place around the 18th century. An impersonal "man" replaced "husband" as a representative of gender, and "husband" in a neutral context began to mean a married man. And in the "high" style they began to call a worthy person who has merits before others. The phrases “this worthy man”, “learned men” and others also became widespread.
In the 19th century, the word "man" came into active use, and the 20th century finally consolidated this word in the lexicon of Soviet citizens, but this was done for the sake of ideology! But everything is in order.
Where did the "men" come from?
As for the word "man", as Efremov writes, it arose at about the same time as "man" - about the 15th century and was first encountered in "Walking Beyond the Three Seas" by Afanasy Nikitin, who writes: "And the men and zhonki are all naked, but all are black."
According to philologists, the word "man" comes from the fact that in Russia commoners were often designated as minors, incapacitated in the full sense of the word, limited by some circumstances, for example, poverty.
Are the Bolsheviks to blame?
For the first three centuries, this word carried all three meanings - it meant, in fact, a man, as a male bearer, a married man, and in the same way they called peasants, residents of the countryside.Until the beginning of the 20th century, the word was completely neutral, as it was defined by the Dictionary of the Russian Academy, and it was only with the coming to power of the Bolsheviks that there was a sharp separation of the meanings of the words “man” and “man”.
They began to call a rude, uncouth person a peasant and began to oppose him to a “man” who was supposed to be smart and educated, “real”. A man-man opposition was formed, in which the latter was assigned the role of an ideological marginal - a kulak drugged by priests or a drunkard and slobber.
The "guy" is back!
However, recently, as V. A. Efremov notes, the word "man" is beginning to return a positive assessment: "A real man!", "He is an honest hard worker, and most importantly - a man!" more and more negative connotations that are associated with the inability of intellectuals to quickly solve everyday problems, with the "effeminacy" of the townspeople and, possibly, with homosexuality.
Scientists do not know what this rethinking of old words is connected with: perhaps the Russian people are returning to self-consciousness, or perhaps in the urban cultural environment people are simply playing with words. In any case, scientists believe that soon the word "man" can finally supplant the word "man".