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John Q. Public: Wikis


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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 represent the randomly selected "man on the street." Similar terms include John Q. Citizen and John Q. Taxpayer, or Jane Q. Public, Jane Q. Citizen, and Jane Q. Taxpayer for a woman.

The name John Doe is used in a similar manner. For multiple people, Tom, Dick and Harry is often used.

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 terms like perp (short for perpetrator) or skell to qualify unsavory individuals.

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

2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin famously referred to "Joe Sixpack and Hockey moms" during a debate. Presidential Candidate John McCain referenced a similar symbol, this time represented by an actual person, saying that Senator Obama's tax plan would hurt Joe the Plumber's bottom line. A fifteen-minute debate on this issue ensued, with both candidates speaking directly to "Joe".[1]

"Joe Sixpack" is the byline of Philadelphia Daily News beer reporter and author Don Russell.[2]



The term "John Q. Public" was the name of a character created by Vaughn Shoemaker, an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News, in 1922.[3] Jim Lange, the editorial cartoonist for The Oklahoman for 58 years, was closely identified with a version of the John Q. Public character,[4] whom he sometimes also called "Mr. Voter". Lange's version of the character was described as "bespectacled, mustachioed, fedora-wearing".[5] In 2006 the Oklahoma State Senate voted to make this character the "state's official editorial cartoon."[6]

Other English-speaking countries

The equivalent in the United Kingdom is Joe (or Jane) Public, or Joe Bloggs. Tommy or Tommy Atkins is the generic soldier's name there.

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."

Variants in other languages

See also




Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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John Q. Public


John Q. Public (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) A generic individual; some hypothetical average or ordinary citizen.
    Even careful safety precautions in the factory do not make it a good place for John Q. Public to wander unattended.

See also


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