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John Henry

noun, plural John Henries for 1.
1.
Informal. a person's signature.
2.
U.S. Folklore. a legendary black man of exceptional strength and stamina.
Origin of John Henry
1910-1915
An Americanism dating back to 1910-15; from the proper name
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for John Henry
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Was it possible that John Henry was not so simple, after all?

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • Do you know whether John Henry ever goes to the Treadwell's or not?

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • Whatever the future brought to them, she knew that she could trust John Henry's love for her.

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • John Henry asked me to exercise his horse for him when he doesn't go.

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • John Henry's plot to dismember the Union disclosed to congress.

  • Menton, John Henry, solicitor, commissioner for oaths and affidavits.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • The eldest of the three was John Henry, the famous Cardinal.

  • The central portion was built by the son of the orator, John Henry.

    Historic Shrines of America

    John T. (John Thomson) Faris
John Henry in Culture

“John Henry” definition


An American folksong (see folk music) about the “steel-driving man” John Henry. It contains these lines:

John Henry said to his captain,
“A man ain't nothin' but a man,
And before I'd let your steam drill beat me down,
I'd die with the hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord!
I'd die with the hammer in my hand.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for John Henry

John Hancock

noun phrase

One's signature

[1903+; fr the fact that John Hancock of Massachusetts was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776; John Henry, possibly by confusion with Patrick Henry, because of the prominence of John Henry as a folklore hero, and by near-rhyming resemblance]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Word Value for John

14
16
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