Words at Play : Top 10 Words Born in Conflict

#7: John Hancock

"There! I guess King George will be able to read that!"

Contrary to legend, John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, almost certainly did not make that defiant claim as he became the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.

But his signature was large and stylish, and the story caught on.

Thanks in part to the logo of the John Hancock Company, the original autograph is still well known. Americans currently use the term to mean "signature," sometimes in ways the Founders never envisioned:

"[This iPhone app] lets you create your John Hancock by using your finger." (Ross Rubin, Engadget.com, Mar. 23, 2010)

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