The English language is constantly changing. It also seems like it’s changing faster and faster as the years go by.
The rise of the Internet has certainly helped with both of these tendencies.
Forums, chat rooms and other online messaging systems have allowed groups of like-minded individuals to band together regardless of their physical location, leading to subcultures and a proliferation of new words.
Sometimes, these words can be pretty mean-spirited. Enter the manlet.
What does the word “manlet” mean?
The word “manlet” is an insult used to refer to a short man. The group has been popularized by Internet trolls, but doesn’t have an exact definition based on height. Anyone shorter than average could be considered a “manlet” by these groups. “Manlet” is a discriminatory term, and should not be used unless you want to be insulting and offensive.
How tall is a “manlet”?
Because “manlet” is just an insult, and not a scientific measure or term based in actual reality, there’s no consensus about at what height someone is considered a “manlet” or (presumably) is just a regular man.
Based on a little research in the less savory corners of the Internet, the height at which someone can be considered a “manlet” varies from five feet, four inches all the way up to five feet, nine inches (5’9″).
Some people even say that anything less than six feet is a “manlet.”
If you want to approach the word with a bit more rigor, we can look at the average height of men in the United States (where this term is most prevalent).
According to body measurement data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, the average height for men age 20 and over from 2015-2018 was 69 inches. That’s five feet, nine inches.
Although there doesn’t seem to be any easily accessible data collected more recently, average heights haven’t increased much since the 1960s, so we can assume the five feet, nine inches measure is still accurate.
Going by this, then, a “manlet” would be any man less than five feet, nine inches in height.
How do you use “manlet” in a sentence?
Remember that “manlet” is a form of insult based around a type of discrimination. That means, honestly, that you probably shouldn’t use it in a sentence.
That said, the word “manlet” is just a noun. You can use it in the same way you would use any other noun that describes a person.
These examples both show how to use “manlet” in a sentence.
Of course, it’s also possible to just call someone a “manlet,” if you’re into that kind of thing.
But most people probably won’t understand the term at all, let alone that it’s meant insultingly, so it’s probably not very effective.
When was “manlet” first used?
The word “manlet” has been popularized in recent years, and is typically used by Internet trolls to harass men they want to insult and belittle.
Prior to that, however, it has a surprisingly long history.
After some browsing in Google Books, I was able to find the word “manlet” in a poem from 1887 by Frederick Cumming called “Cupid in Eden.”
In the poem, Adam and Even meet Cupid, the personification of romantic love from Greek mythology.
The author describes Cupid as “A tiny manlet, wings at his command” who “looked angelic, as to heaven he’d soar.” Later, Adam and Eve “gaze” upon “the tiny manlet” as he grows from the size of a butterfly to a human baby.
This poem, although deeply weird by modern standards, certainly uses “manlet” to refer to a small man-like creature. It isn’t really insulting, however.
The first written use of “manlet” as an insult appears to go, ironically enough, to a woman.
In Lizzie Allen Harker’s 1903 book A Romance of the Nursery, one character refers to another as “a little sandy-haired, feebly-joking ‘manlet,’ with fat, soft hands.”
Here, “manlet” is pretty clearly insulting, and likely based on height. It certainly ties into ideals about what men should or should not look like.
Today, of course, “manlet” is known not because of late 19th and early 20th-century literature, but because Internet trolls use it to insult people they don’t like.
Where does the word “manlet” come from?
“Manlet” likely comes from Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) groups, a loosely organized coalition of generally misogynistic movements whose male members blame women for what they perceive as the “loss” of men’s rights. Most, if not all, MRA group are hotbeds of toxic masculinity, where men with extreme views about women and the supremacy of men meet and share their thoughts with one another.
A common thread in many MRA group websites is that several ‘types’ of men exist, and that only certain types are ‘real’ men.
These groups create elaborate and (again) generally misogynistic rankings of men based on their perceived lack of power compared to women, where the ‘type’ of men MRA members associate with is both victimized by society and held back from what they think is their ‘true’ level of power and reward.
In case the single quote marks in the previous paragraph don’t make it clear, almost everyone else thinks the ideas espoused by MRA groups are ridiculous and sexist, and that the people who say this stuff are actually just being ignored because they are mean-spirited jerks who think everyone should worship them for no reason.
Minor digression aside, let’s get back to “manlet.”
Basically, this word is just an insulting way to refer to a man of shorter than average height. Some people say that a “manlet” also needs to be trying to overcompensate for his shortness, but that isn’t always the case.
Is height discrimination a real thing?
If you’re of average height, it might seem odd that someone could be discriminated against based on their height.
Height is not a protected class under United States federal law, but legislation prohibiting discrimination based on height does exist in some places.
The state of Michigan and the District of Columbia, as well as the cities of San Francisco and Santa Cruz in California, all have laws which forbid height discrimination.
The long and the short of it (pun very much intended) is that calling someone a “manlet” is just like any other kind of bullying. The only thing it really proves is that the person flinging insults is kind of a jerk.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.