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John Doe

an anonymous, average man.
a fictitious name used in legal proceedings for a male party whose true name is not known.
of or for an unknown person; using the name John Doe to stand for an unknown person:
The judge issued a John Doe warrant so the police could arrest the culprit when they identified him.
an unidentified man:
The police were looking for a John Doe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for John Doe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now, I have a mental picture of John Doe that is as clear as a steel engraving.

    The Four Million

    O. Henry
  • Could she have the heart to bring proceedings against him as John Doe?

    What's-His-Name George Barr McCutcheon
  • "I've got a 'John Doe' on the valet," replied the operative.

    Dreamy Hollow

    Sumner Charles Britton
  • A John Doe warrant ought to be enough to get everybody we want.

    Mystery Ranch Arthur Chapman
  • Which of these traits of John Doe are native and which are acquired?

    Psychology Robert S. Woodworth
British Dictionary definitions for John Doe

John Doe

See Doe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for John Doe

fictitious plaintiff in a legal action, attested from 1768 (in Blackstone). The fictitious defendant was Richard Roe. If female, Jane Doe, Jane Roe. Replaced earlier John-a-nokes (1530s) or Jack Nokes, who usually was paired with John-a-stiles or Tom Stiles. Also used of plaintiffs or defendants who have reason to be anonymous. By 1852, John Doe was being used in North America for "any man whose name is not known," but Britain tended to preserve it in the narrower legal sense "name of the fictitious plaintiff in actions of ejectment." John Doe warrant attested from 1935.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for John Doe

John Doe

noun phrase

Any man; the average man; joe

[1768+; originally the fictitious plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit]

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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Idioms and Phrases with John Doe

John Doe

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
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 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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