A look at collocates of ‘man up’

man up



For this post, I want to take a closer look at the collocates of ‘man up’, as I find it to be a somewhat problematic phrase used by John Kerry when advising Edward Snowden to return to the US from Russia and face the consequences of his NSA revelations.

The looking extract is taken from the BBC:


“A patriot would not run away,” Mr Kerry said on Wednesday. “If Mr Snowden wants to come back to the United States… we’ll have him on a flight today.”

Mr Kerry also called the former National Security Agency contractor “confused”, adding “this is a man who has done great damage to his country”.

“He should man up and come back to the US,” Mr Kerry said.

For this blog, I use Sketch Engine http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/ and look at the enTenTen12 corpus, which is a 12 billion word corpus of English texts taken from the Internet.

A search of the corpus produced 6,613 instances of the phrase ‘man up’, 0.5 per million.

I am interested in looking at the collocates of this phrase, which produced the following list ordered by MI score:

collocates of man up


However, as I am interested in the verbal phrase ‘man up’ and not the prepositional phrase, I had to study concordance lines in order to eliminate collocates which were not associated with the verbal phrase. A second list of collocates was then produced, again ordered by MI score:

1) pussies, 2) admit, 3) apologized, 4) apologize, 5) whining, 6) gotta, 7) fucking, 8) admitting, 9) whoever, 10) dude, 11) Guys, 12) complaining, 13) decides, 14) excuses, 15) bitch, 16) responsibility, 17) balls, 18) pussy, 19) fuck, 20) quit

Although the phrase ‘man up’ appears to be associated with the act of taking responsibility and accepting the consequences of certain actions, there also appears to be other potential discourses associated with the phrase which may be considered as sexist, demeaning and derogatory. In the next post, I will look at these collocates in context in order to study the discourse prosodies of this verbal phrase further.



‘Man Up’. A Look at Corpus Data

Recently, US secretary of state John Kerry told intelligence leaker Edward Snowden to ‘man up’, return to the US and face justice.


I looked at the COCA corpus http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/  for examples of this phrase, as I thought it was an interesting term for such a high ranking, powerful states person to use.

In the 450 million word corpus there were 253 instances of this phrase, although not all of them were in the form of a verb phrase. Of the first one hundred concordance lines, the follows are examples of the verb phrase usage:


(EXPLETIVE DELETED) off. ” You know, what Chris? Time to man up. Time to rise up. You’re a grown man now.

Rusty got show. Now, Hemy, you were there. You got to man up. The jig is up, you know? You’re our guy.

And you told him to man up. He did just that. But what has it been like for you

a case of being a weenie. I mean, come on, man up. I mean, this — can you imagine… 

y a woman and then you’re going to sue — like, dude, man up, come on. GUTHRIE: Can I say that on today.com…

you look a little bit like a punk. SNYDERMAN: I’m with Donny, man up, move on. Mr-DEUTSCH: Come on. GUTHRIE: She says the claims are

, dad, I did it. I was wrong, I’m sorry. Man up. Put your pants on, sit at the table. You got everything

time and effort. When stuff like this happens, I wish Scott would just man up, deal with random repair hiccups, and in general, do more traditional

Part of the reason is the societal pressure they are under to ” man up ” and not appear vulnerable. ” One of the most powerful things a

But Ive told him he ought to man up and run against a country boy from Dresden, Tennessee. 

 Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand that we have a problem with

She wants to abolish Social Security entirely. KING: Roland is trying to man up. (CROSSTALK) MARTIN: John, I will bring up gender in this case

A woman can say to a man, man up. But if Reid made any kind of reference to gender 

 I got to man up and call a time-out. That’s all we have, everybody. Thanks

Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand that we have a problem with

And, like I said, he needs to man up and leader up and — and run his own race.

a little bit in the campaign that just ended, tell your colleagues to man up? BROWN: Well I don’t use that term. I think it

Later in the program, we’ll man up with our vuvuzelas, the most overused words of 2010. 

 For republican women. Man up. Grow some hair on your lip. Thanks, everybody.

 ” Why don’t you man up and come out for football, Junior? Scared? ” 

side of the face he started it son now you hit him back go on man up don’t be such a goddamn pussy only Caleb’s being a goddamn pussy

” None of them spoke. Come on, Ulrich thought. Man up. We can do this. ” Look, ” he said, “

What We Want You to Do If we love you, we will man up. But there are a few things you can do to help. When

You know what? Im going to do this. Im going to man up and taste it. 

 Maybe I’m just being sad. ” # ” Maybe you need to man up a little. ” Isaac grinned but Poe stayed serious.

People’s expectations should be higher. All of us have to man up a little and be like, Okay, we’re not going to see

urned a blind eye when other men are mistreating women. We definitely need to man up

Everybody in the Houston Fire Department ought to man up and show their support for their two targeted comrades. 

For God’s sake, Mr. President, man up. Calm down and listen

 Pain won’t ever go away, so man up to it. LAUER: Severe pain, or is it — is it

And you can handle it — you just have to man up. ” Dry laid ” means there’s no mortar holding the stones together

be headed for a long run of playoff berths and championship chatter. Want to man up like Roy? His manual follows. RULE 1 You have to show respect

and twisted his ankle the second, I had gently suggested that he should ” man up and keep walking “? Why did he insist on holding on to the

 So I decided I would man up and gather some firewood (we had indeed burnt our entire supply the night

And you got to just man up and do your job.


The examples appear to indicate that the phrase is often used to express taking responsibility, however it is sexist, aggressive term as the follow indicates:

For republican women. Man up. Grow some hair on your lip. Thanks, everybody.

side of the face he started it son now you hit him back go on man up don’t be such a goddamn pussy only Caleb’s being a goddamn pussy

It is therefore quite surprising that the US secretary of state would use such a phrase in a public address.