John Bull

John Bull

1705–15; named after John Bull, chief character in Arbuthnot's allegory The History of John Bull (1712)

John Bullish, adjective
John Bullishness, noun
John Bullism, noun Unabridged


John, John Bull. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
John Bull
1.  a personification of England or the English people
2.  a typical Englishman
[C18: name of a character intended to be representative of the English nation in The History of John Bull (1712) by John Arbuthnot]
John Bullish
John Bullishness
John Bullism

bull1 (bʊl)
1.  any male bovine animal, esp one that is sexually matureRelated: 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
 a.  a speculator who buys in anticipation of rising prices in order to make a profit on resale
 b.  Compare bear (as modifier): a bull market
6.  chiefly (Brit) bull's-eye short for bull's-eye
7.  slang short for bullshit
8.  bulldog short for bull terrier
9.  a bull in a china shop a clumsy person
10.  slang (US), (Canadian) shoot the bull
 a.  to pass time talking lightly
 b.  to boast or exaggerate
11.  take the bull by the horns to face and tackle a difficulty without shirking
12.  male; masculine: a bull elephant
13.  large; strong
14.  (tr) to raise or attempt to raise the price or prices of (a stock market or a security) by speculative buying
15.  (intr) (of a cow) to be on heat
16.  slang (US) (intr) to talk lightly or foolishly
Related: taurine
[Old English bula, from Old Norse boli; related to Middle Low German bulle, Middle Dutch bolle]

bull2 (bʊl)
Also called: Irish bull a ludicrously self-contradictory or inconsistent statement
[C17: of uncertain origin]

bull3 (bʊl)
a formal document issued by the pope, written in antiquated characters and often sealed with a leaden bulla
[C13: from Medieval Latin bulla seal attached to a bull, from Latin: round object]

Bull1 (bʊl)
the Bull the constellation Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac

Bull2 (bʊl)
1.  John. 1563--1628, English composer and organist
2.  See John Bull

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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Word Origin & History

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).

O.E. bula "a bull, a steer," or O.N. boli "bull," both from P.Gmc. *bullon- (cf. M.Du. bulle, Ger. Bulle), perhaps from a Gmc. verbal stem meaning "to roar," which survives in some Ger. dialects and perhaps in the first element of boulder (q.v.). The other possibility is
that it is from PIE *bhln-, from base *bhel- (2) "to blow, 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.). Bullfrog is from 1738, on resemblance of voice. Stock market sense is from 1714. Bulldyke is from 1926 (see dyke). Bullheaded "obstinate" is from 1818. Phrase to take the bull by the horns first recorded 1711.

"papal edict," c.1300, from L. bulla "sealed document" (cf. O.Fr. bulle, It. bulla), originally the word for the seal itself, from bulla "round swelling, knob," said ultimately to be from Gaulish, from PIE *beu-, a base supposed to have formed words associated with swelling (cf. Lith. bule "buttocks,"
M.Du. puyl "bag").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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