John Q. Public

John Q. Public is a generic name in the United States to denote a hypothetical member of society deemed a "common man." He is presumed to have no strong political or social biases relevant to whatever topic is at hand, and to represent the randomly selected "man on the street." The equivalent terms are John Q. Citizen and John Q. Taxpayer. Female equivalents include Jane Q. Public, Jane Q. Citizen, and Jane Q. Taxpayer.

In the United States, the term John Q. Public is used by law enforcement officers to refer to an individual with no criminal bent, as opposed to the terms perp or skell, used to qualify unsavory individuals.

Similar terms for the common family can be Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public, Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Citizen, or Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Taxpayer

Roughly equivalent, but more pejorative, are the names Joe Six-pack, Joe Blow, and Joe Schmoe, implying a lower-class citizen (from the Yiddish "schmo": simpleton, or possibly Hebrew "sh'mo": (what's)-his-name).

The equivalent in the United Kingdom is Joe (or Jane) Public, Joe Bloggs, Tommy or Tommy Atkins is the generic soldier's name there. The phrase "Tom, Dick & Harry" is often used usually to indicate possibly unwelcome people as in the phrase "any Tom, Dick and Harry could have..." walked in, picked that up, etc.

The historical and legal equivalent is the man on the Clapham omnibus, although this is a generic description rather than a generic name.

In Australia, John (or Jane) Citizen is usually seen as a placeholder in credit card advertisements, while Joe (or Jane) Bloggs is commonly used in speech. Joe Blow is also in common parlance in Australia, but contains slight overtones of inappropriateness. For example, in the admonishment: "You left the door unlocked and any Joe Blow could have walked right in"

The term "John Q. Public" was originally the name of a character created by Vaughn Shoemaker, an editorial cartoonist for theChicago Daily News, in 1922. []

ee also

*Average Joe
*J. Random
*Jan Kowalski (Polish equivalent; see )
*John Doe
*Joe Bloggs (British variant)
*John Q (film)
*Ola Nordmann (Norwegian variant)
*Max Mustermann (German variant)
*Otto Normalverbraucher (German variant)
*Svensson (Swedish variant)


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • john q public — (USA) John Q Public is the typical, average person …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • John Q. Public — John ,Q. Public noun AMERICAN a name used for representing normal average people in general …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • John Q. Public — average American citizen, attested from 1934 …   Etymology dictionary

  • John Q. Public — ☆ John Q. Public n. personification of an ordinary or average citizen, esp. of the U.S …   English World dictionary

  • john q. public — noun also john q. or john q. citizen Usage: usually capitalized J&Q&P&C Etymology: from the name John + the initial Q. + public or citizen 1. : a member of the public or the community …   Useful english dictionary

  • John Q. Public — [“d3an “kju “pablik] n. a general term for a male representative of the public. (The mate of Jane Q. Public.) □ John Q. Public doesn’t seem to like the new tax forms. □ John Q. Public tends not to like regimentation …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • John Q Public — (AmE infml) a name used to refer to any average person, especially when seen as representing typical public opinion: What will John Q Public think of higher taxes? Compare Clapham omnibus. * * * …   Universalium

  • John Q Public — American, humorous the public. You have to ask yourself what John Q Public will think when he hears about the government overspending …   New idioms dictionary

  • John Q. Public — {n.} A name used informally for the average citizen. * /It is John Q. Public s duty to vote at each election./ Compare: JOE DOAKES …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • John Q. Public — {n.} A name used informally for the average citizen. * /It is John Q. Public s duty to vote at each election./ Compare: JOE DOAKES …   Dictionary of American idioms

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.