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John Henry

noun, plural John Henries for 1.
Informal. a person's signature.
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 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
  • John Henry's plot to dismember the Union disclosed to congress.

  • Was it possible that John Henry was not so simple, after all?

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • Even John Henry Newman was compelled to teach the relativity of truth, and that a doctrine of development must be accepted.

    Science and Medieval Thought Sir Thomas Clifford Allbutt
  • Do you know whether John Henry ever goes to the Treadwell's or not?

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • One of these—a Mr. John Henry Colls—a few years later addressed a poem to her.

    Mary Wollstonecraft Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • Whatever the future brought to them, she knew that she could trust John Henry's love for her.

    Virginia Ellen Glasgow
  • John Henry Newman said the same in a different and more modest dialectic.

    Egoists James Huneker
  • John Henry asked me to exercise his horse for him when he doesn't go.

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

    Ulysses James Joyce
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 American Heritage® 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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