John Hancock

Origin of John Hancock

1840–50, Americanism; named after John Hancock, from the boldness and legibility of his signature


  1. Herbert JeffreyHerbie, born 1940, U.S. jazz pianist and composer.
  2. John,1737–93, American statesman: first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  3. Winfield Scott,1824–86, Union general in the Civil War. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for john hancock

autograph, endorsement, inscription, mark, seal

British Dictionary definitions for john hancock

John Hancock

  1. US and Canadian informal a person's signatureput your John Hancock on this form Also called: John Henry

Word Origin for John Hancock

after John Hancock, from his clear and legible signature on the American Declaration of Independence


  1. Anthony John, known as Tony. 1924–68, British comedian, noted for his radio series Hancock's Half Hour
  2. John. 1737–93, American statesman; first signatory of the Declaration of Independence
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

Word Origin and History for john hancock

John Hancock

colloquial for "signature," 1903 (sometimes, through some unexplainable error, John Henry), from the Boston merchant and rebel (1736-1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The extended sense is from his signing that dangerous document first or most flamboyantly.

John Hancock, president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, writing his name in large, plain letters, and saying: "There; John Bull can read my name without spectacles. Now let him double the price on my head, for this is my defiance." [Hélène Adeline Guerber, "The Story of the Thirteen Colonies," New York, 1898]

The family name is attested from 1276 in Yorkshire, a diminutive (see cock) of Hann, a very common given name in 13c. Yorkshire as a pet form of Henry or John.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

john hancock in Culture

John Hancock

A signature: “Please help us out and put your John Hancock on our petition.” The expression refers to the bold signature that John Hancock wrote on the Declaration of Independence.

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.

Idioms and Phrases with john hancock

John Hancock

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]

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