Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
slang A penis. Primarily heard in UK. The footballer lay on the ground in agony after being struck in the John Thomas by a defender's foot.
A man who spends a lot of time at a theater so as to seek the romantic attention, favor, or company of an actress. Ms. Gabler is such a stunning beauty that she always has some stage-door Johnny or another waiting for her after the curtain falls each night.
See also: johnny
Dear John letter
A letter sent, typically from a woman to a man, to end a romantic relationship. Mike was clearly upset when he received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend, Caroline. He thought their relationship was going well and didn't expect it to end so suddenly. Mail call was usually a happy time in the military barracks, except for the unlucky soldiers who got Dear John letters from their sweethearts back home.
put (one's) John Hancock on
To sign one's name on a document or other item. John Hancock, an influential figure in the American Revolution, is known for his especially large and legible signature on the Declaration of Independence. As soon as you put your John Hancock on these papers, you'll be the proud owner of a brand new car! I would never have put my John Hancock on such an unfavorable contract—I think my signature was forged.
Typical, ordinary, average people; the public at large. For any new piece of technology to succeed in the market these days, it has to be easy for Joe Public to pick up and use. She isn't well liked among other politicians, but Joe Public absolutely adores her.
A caricature personifying typical English people, especially an English man, or England as a whole. The character is a very clear John Bull, symbolizing British colonialism at its worst.
John Q Public
Typical, ordinary, average people; the public at large. Primarily heard in US. For any new piece of technology to succeed in the market these days, it has to be easy for John Q Public to pick up and use.
A man whose identity is unknown or being protected, as in legal proceedings. The victim is a John Doe—the paramedics didn't find any identification on him. The case was brought by a John Doe, so we don't know the true identity of the man suing us.
(one's) John Hancock
slang One's signature. John Hancock, an influential figure in the American Revolution, is known for his especially large and legible signature on the Declaration of Independence. As soon as you put your John Hancock on these papers, you'll be the proud owner of a brand new car! I would never have put my John Hancock on such an unfavorable contract—I think my signature was forged.
slang A police officer. Hear those sirens? We need to get out of here before Big John catches us!
(one's) John Henry
slang One's signature. A variant of the more common "one's John Hancock," likely as a means of shortening it in everyday speech. John Hancock was an influential figure in the American Revolution who is now known for his especially large and legible signature on the Declaration of Independence. As soon as you put your John Henry on these papers, you'll be the proud owner of a brand new car! We're going to need your John Henry on this contract to make the deal official.
slang An honest, respectable, and law-abiding man. Used primarily in criminal and prison communities. The key is to find some square john to take the fall for you when the feds finally catch on to the scheme. I know you can't understand how I can sleep at night doing what I do. But see, I look at a square john like you, a slave to your work and your mortgage, and I think you're the crazy one.
slang An honest, respectable, and law-abiding woman. Used primarily in criminal and prison communities. You really shouldn't get involved with a square-john broad. You'll be spending all your time avoiding her questions so she won't know what you really do for a living. We'll get Tommy's cousin to make the drop for us. The security guards wouldn't bat an eye at a square-john broad like her.
See also: broad
a Dear John letter
a letter a woman writes to her boyfriend telling him that she does not love him anymore. Bert got a Dear John letter today from Sally. He was devastated.
one's John Henryand one's John Hancock
one's signature. Just put your John Henry on this line, and we'll bring your new car around.
A stingy person, as in He's a real cheap skate when it comes to tipping. This idiom combines cheap (for "penurious") with the slang usage of skate for a contemptible or low individual. It has largely replaced the earlier cheap John. [Slang; late 1800s]
1. Also, John Q. Public; Joe Blow; Joe Doakes; Joe Zilch. An average undistinguished man; also, the average citizen. For example, This television show is just right for a John Doe, or It's up to John Q. Public to go to the polls and vote. Originally used from the 13th century on legal documents as an alias to protect a witness, John Doe acquired the sense of "ordinary person" in the 1800s. The variants date from the 1900s. Also see Joe six-pack.
2. Also, Jane Doe. An unknown individual, as in The police found a John Doe lying on the street last night, or The judge issued a warrant for the arrest of the perpetrators, Jane Doe no. 1 and Jane Doe no. 2 . [Second half of 1900s]
Also, John Henry. One's signature, as in Just put your John Hancock on the dotted line. This expression alludes to John Hancock's prominent signature on the Declaration of Independence. The variant simply substitutes a common name for "Hancock." [Mid-1800s]
John Q. Public
see under John Doe.
Joe PublicBRITISH, INFORMAL or
John Q PublicAMERICAN, INFORMAL
People say Joe Public to talk about ordinary people. I don't think Joe Public would be happy to pay me for much of what I do. John Q Public trusts you.
ˌJoe ˈPublic(British English) (American English ˌJohn ˌQ. ˈPublic) (informal) people in general; the public: Once again, it seems that Joe Public is paying the price for inefficient management.
n. the police; a police officer. Big John took her in and hit her with a vice rap.
Dear John letter
n. a letter a woman writes to her boyfriend in the military service telling him that she does not love him anymore. Sally sends a Dear John letter about once a month.
1. n. a toilet; a bathroom. Is there another john around here?
2. n. a man. This john came up and asked if I had seen the girl in a picture he had.
3. n. a prostitute’s customer. She led the john into an alley where Lefty robbed him.
4. n. a victim of a crime or deception; a sucker. The john went straight to the cops and told the whole thing.
John Doeand Jane Doe (ˈdʒɑn ˈdo)
n. a name used for a person whose real name is unknown. The tag on the corpse said Jane Doe, since no one had identified her. John Doe was the name at the bottom of the check.
n. one’s signature. (Refers to the signature of John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.) Put your John Hancock right here, if you don’t mind.
n. a law officer. John Law showed up with a piece of paper that says you are in trouble.
See Johnny Law
square johnand square apple
n. someone who obeys the rules; a square. Fred is a square john. There’s no point in worrying about him. I look like a square john, but I’m really quite a devil.
square john broad
n. an honest, straightforward woman. (Underworld.) We need a square john broad to give this place a look of respectability.
who shot John
n. moonshine; illicit whiskey. (Prohibition.) You know where I can get a little of that who shot John?
A letter or other notification calling off a romantic relationship. The term was born during World War II, when a serviceman stationed overseas received a letter from his girlfriend or wife ending their relationship. After the war it was extended to both genders and used quite loosely, sometimes even for other kinds of rejection.
The average person. This appellation actually dates from the thirteenth century, when it was used in legal documents to disguise the identity of witnesses; the tenant plaintiff was called John Doe and the landlord defendant Richard Roe. In the nineteenth century the name acquired the present meaning of ordinary person. A book, The O’Hara Family (1825), included “Tales, Containing . . . John Doe,” and almost a century later a movie starring Gary Cooper was entitled Meet John Doe (1941). Similar appellations include Joe Blow, first recorded in 1867; Joe Doakes, from the 1920s; and John Q. Public, coined by the writer William Allen White in 1937. John Doe has outlived them all.
One’s signature. John Hancock was the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in an exceptionally large, clear hand. Indeed, he supposedly remarked, “I guess King George will be able to read that” (July 4, 1776). In the mid-nineteenth century his name was transferred to anyone’s signature.