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John Bull

noun
1.
England; the English people.
2.
the typical Englishman.
Origin
1705-1715
1705-15; named after John Bull, chief character in Arbuthnot's allegory The History of John Bull (1712)
Related forms
John Bullish, adjective
John Bullishness, noun
John Bullism, noun

Bull

[boo l] /bʊl/
noun
1.
John, John Bull.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for John Bull

John Bull

noun
1.
a personification of England or the English people
2.
a typical Englishman
Derived Forms
John Bullish, adjective
John Bullishness, noun
John Bullism, noun
Word Origin
C18: name of a character intended to be representative of the English nation in The History of John Bull (1712) by John Arbuthnot

bull1

/bʊl/
noun
1.
any male bovine animal, esp one that is sexually mature related adjective taurine
2.
the uncastrated adult male of any breed of domestic cattle
3.
the male of various other animals including the elephant and whale
4.
a very large, strong, or aggressive person
5.
(stock exchange)
  1. a speculator who buys in anticipation of rising prices in order to make a profit on resale
  2. (as modifier): a bull market Compare bear1 (sense 5)
6.
(mainly Brit) short for bull's-eye (sense 1), bull's-eye (sense 2)
7.
(slang) short for bullshit
8.
short for bulldog, bull terrier
9.
a bull in a china shop, a clumsy person
10.
(US & Canadian, slang) shoot the bull
  1. to pass time talking lightly
  2. to boast or exaggerate
11.
take the bull by the horns, to face and tackle a difficulty without shirking
adjective
12.
male; masculine: a bull elephant
13.
large; strong
verb
14.
(transitive) to raise or attempt to raise the price or prices of (a stock market or a security) by speculative buying
15.
(intransitive) (of a cow) to be on heat
16.
(intransitive) (US, slang) to talk lightly or foolishly
Word Origin
Old English bula, from Old Norse boli; related to Middle Low German bulle, Middle Dutch bolle

bull2

/bʊl/
noun
1.
a ludicrously self-contradictory or inconsistent statement Also called Irish bull
Word Origin
C17: of uncertain origin

bull3

/bʊl/
noun
1.
a formal document issued by the pope, written in antiquated characters and often sealed with a leaden bulla
Word Origin
C13: from Medieval Latin bulla seal attached to a bull, from Latin: round object

Bull1

/bʊl/
noun
1.
the Bull, the constellation Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac

Bull2

/bʊl/
noun
1.
John. 1563–1628, English composer and organist
2.
See John Bull
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 Bull

"Englishman who exemplifies the national character," 1772, from name of a character representing the English nation in Arbuthnot's satire "History of John Bull" (1712).

bull

n.

"bovine male animal," from Old English bula "a bull, a steer," or Old Norse boli "bull," both from Proto-Germanic *bullon- (cf. Middle Dutch bulle, Dutch bul, German Bulle), perhaps from a Germanic verbal stem meaning "to roar," which survives in some German dialects and perhaps in the first element of boulder (q.v.). The other possibility [Watkins] is that the Germanic root is from PIE *bhln-, from root *bhel- (2) "to blow, inflate, swell" (see bole).

An uncastrated male, reared for breeding, as opposed to a bullock or steer. Extended after 1610s to males of other large animals (elephant, alligator, whale, etc.). Stock market sense is from 1714 (see bear (n.)). Meaning "policeman" attested by 1859. Figurative phrase to take the bull by the horns first recorded 1711. To be a bull in a china shop, figurative of careless and inappropriate use of force, attested from 1812 and was the title of a popular humorous song in 1820s England. Bull-baiting attested from 1570s.

"papal edict," c.1300, from Medieval Latin bulla "sealed document" (source of Old French bulle, Italian bulla), originally the word for the seal itself, from Latin bulla "round swelling, knob," said ultimately to be from Gaulish, from PIE *beu-, a root supposed to have formed words associated with swelling (cf. Lithuanian bule "buttocks," Middle Dutch puyl "bag," also possibly Latin bucca "cheek").

"false talk, fraud," Middle English, apparently from Old French bole "deception, trick, scheming, intrigue," and perhaps connected to modern Icelandic bull "nonsense."

Sais christ to ypocrites ... yee ar ... all ful with wickednes, tresun and bull. ["Cursor Mundi," early 14c.]
There also was a verb bull meaning "to mock, cheat," which dates from 1530s.

v.

"push through roughly," 1884, from bull (n.1). Related: Bulled; bulling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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John Bull in Culture

John Bull definition


A figure who stands for England in literary and political satire and in cartoons. John Bull is a stout, feisty man, often shown in a suit made out of the British flag.

Note: John Bull is the British equivalent of the United States' symbol Uncle Sam.
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 Bull

bull

modifier

: abull market

noun
  1. A peace officer of any kind, esp a uniformed police officer •London police constables were called bull-dogs by 1710 (1850s+)
  2. An elephant, of either sex (1920s+ Circus)
  3. An ace • Short for bullet (1940s+ Poker)
  4. Bull Durham2 ,a very popular brand of tobacco for rolling cigarettes (1930s+)
  5. A locomotive (1880s+ Railroad)
  6. The chief; head man; boss, bull of the woods (1940s+ Loggers & cowboys)
  7. A dealer who favors higher prices and quicker selling (1700s+ Stock market)
  8. bullshit (1900+)
verb

: We were sitting around bulling/ He was bulling about his enormous talent

Related Terms

all that kind of crap, bull session, bullwork, cock-and-bull story, full of shit, shoot the bull, sling it, throw the bull


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