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John Henry

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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

An Americanism dating back to 1910–15; from the proper name
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
john henry in Culture

“John Henry”

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.