John Doe

John Doe

noun
1.
an anonymous, average man.
2.
a fictitious name used in legal proceedings for a male party whose true name is not known. Compare Jane Doe, Richard Roe.
3.
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.
4.
an unidentified man: The police were looking for a John Doe.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
John Doe
 
n
See Doe

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

John Doe
fictitious plaintiff in a legal action, attested from 1768 (in Blackstone). The fictitious defendant was Richard Roe. By 1852, John Doe was being used for "any man whose name is not known." John Doe warrant attested from 1935. John Q. Public "average American citizen" is from 1937. In legal usage, John
Doe replaced earlier John-a-nokes (1531), who usually was paired with John-a-stiles.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

John Doe

  1. 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.

  2. 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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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