from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Marked by candid interaction between men.
  • adjective Sports Of, relating to, or being a system of defense in which a defensive player guards a specific offensive player.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective direct, forthright, and honest
  • adjective sports one-on-one
  • adverb directly, forthrightly, and honestly

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb directly
  • adjective being a system of play in which an individual defensive player guards an individual offensive player
  • adjective forthright and honest


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • There's some evidence that playing schoolyard man-to-man may be the long-sought antidote to the pass-happy, spread-the- field offenses that have been causing massive scoring and yardage inflation in the NFL.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • As the Patriots' man-to-man defense has given way to zones, they've been especially vulnerable underneath; 139 of the 190 passes they've allowed were thrown 10 yards or less and a full 38 gained more than 10 yards.

    This Man Must Stay on the Sideline

  • One thing is for sure: If man-to-man coverage sweeps the NFL, football will be a lot less mystifying to anyone who has ever played a game of touch football at the park.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • But after years of watching other teams throw every imaginable variation of defense at them, the Patriots' plucky receivers are proving vulnerable to the most familiar defensive scheme of all: Good-old-fashioned man-to-man coverage—the kind you'd see in your average schoolyard flag-football game.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • But when the Pittsburgh Steelers lined up in man-to-man coverage against them two Sundays ago, the Patriots receivers barely got open, limiting quarterback Tom Brady to a measly 170 passing yards—a third of his total in the season's opening game.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • Moss's de facto replacement, Chad Ochocinco, has the talent to beat man-to-man coverage, but has, by many reports, struggled to grasp the Patriots' offense.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • But the Steelers lined up in tight, man-to-man coverage with only four pass rushers.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • They intended to make the Macedonian king abandon his military advantage of a disciplined line of troops and fight them man-to-man amid the rocks and trees in true barbarian style.

    Alexander the Great

  • But when the Patriots came to Pittsburgh, the Steelers' defense did something nobody expected from them: They lined up in man-to-man coverage that a high-school coach could have drawn up.

    How to Smother the Patriots

  • It also remains to be seen whether this man-to-man strategy will work against other offensive powers like the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, teams that have better receivers and have the two highest-scoring offenses in the league.

    How to Smother the Patriots


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