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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.
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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.”
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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.