John Henry

John Henry

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.

Origin:
1910–15, Americanism; from the proper name

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To john henry
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

“John Henry” definition


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.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

john henry

hero of a widely sung U.S. black folk ballad. It describes his contest with a steam drill, in which John Henry crushed more rock than did the machine but died "with his hammer in his hand." Writers and artists see in John Henry a symbol of man's foredoomed struggle against the machine and of the black man's tragic battle with the white man.

Learn more about Henry, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;