Transferred use of the surname, which originated in the Middle Ages as an ethnic name for one of the Bretons who arrived in England in the wake of the Norman Conquest. As a surname it is most common in East Anglia, where Breton settlement was particularly concentrated. As a given name, it enjoyed something of a vogue in the 1970s and has since remained modestly popular, especially in the United States.
English, German, Dutch (De Mann), and Jewish (Ashkenazic): nickname for a fierce or strong man, or for a man contrasted with a boy, from Middle English, Middle High German, Middle Dutch man. In some cases it may have arisen as an occupational name for a servant, from the medieval use of the term to describe a person of inferior social status. The Jewish surname can be ornamental.