\ ˈjän How to pronounce john (audio) \

Definition of john

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 [probably short for johnny, johnny house privy] : toilet
2 : a prostitute's client
\ ˈjän How to pronounce John (audio) \

Definition of John (Entry 2 of 5)

1 : a Jewish prophet who according to Gospel accounts foretold Jesus' messianic ministry and baptized him

called also John the Baptist

2 : an apostle who according to various Christian traditions wrote the fourth Gospel, the three Johannine Epistles, and the Book of Revelation
3 : the fourth Gospel in the New Testament — see Bible Table
4 : any of three short didactic letters addressed to early Christians and included in the New Testament — see Bible Table


biographical name (1)
\ ˈjän How to pronounce John (audio) \

Definition of John (Entry 3 of 5)

name of 21 popes: especially XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) 1881–1963 (pope 1958–63)


biographical name (2)

Definition of John (Entry 4 of 5)

1167–1216 John Lackland \ ˈlak-​ˌland How to pronounce ˈlak-ˌland (audio) \ king of England (1199–1216)


biographical name (3)

Definition of John (Entry 5 of 5)

Augustus Edwin 1878–1961 British painter and etcher

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Synonyms for john

Synonyms: Noun (1)

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Examples of john in a Sentence

Noun (1) Excuse me, I have to go to the john. man, that guy seems to spend hours in the john
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That slow circumnavigation past highway and ditch, the mountain of gravel and the porta-john. J. Robert Lennon, The New Yorker, "The Loop," 19 Aug. 2019 Last year, those awards went to a fried hoppin' john cake; a cinnamon-rice dish called arroz con leche; and a cotton candy taco. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Check out the State Fair of Texas' 10 celebrity foods in the 2019 Big Tex Choice Awards," 14 Aug. 2019 The season 9 superstar plays Euphoria, a prostitute who educates Elektra in the ways of the world by telling her about her time in prison after a john beat her up and got her arrested. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Opening Up & Closing Ranks: 5 Key Takeaways From Episode 3 of 'Pose' Season 2," 26 June 2019 Softshell crabs are encrusted in cornflakes, served with spicy corn pone and hoppin’ john. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "Ocean City’s Shark on the Harbor puts the focus on Maryland seafood and produce," 8 Aug. 2019 The Fall Creek Place restaurant serves coconut curry hummus with squash tabbouleh, Korean-style Baby Back Ribs with house kimchi and vegan meatloaf with quinoa hoppin' john. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Every restaurant you'll try at the IndyStar Wine & Food Experience," 16 July 2019 The New York Knicks are a rusty port-a-john inside a toxic waste dump on the most expensive real estate in the country. Michael Rosenberg, SI.com, "All Cap Space, No Substance: Knicks Think They’re Something, but They’re Nothing," 1 July 2019 Responding officers arrested a suspected john and identified three suspected prostitutes. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Modest man gets 16 years in East Bay human trafficking case," 21 June 2019 Photo: john david mercer/Reuters On the ensuing possession, with the Crimson Tide stampede breathing down their necks, the Bulldogs went for a fake punt. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Unlikely Hero Who Saved Alabama’s Season," 1 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'john.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of john

Noun (1)

1906, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for john

Noun (1)

from the name John

Noun (2)

Late Latin Johannes, from Greek Iōannēs, from Hebrew Yōhānān

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Statistics for john

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for john

The first known use of john was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for john


How to pronounce John (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of john

chiefly US, informal
: a toilet or bathroom
: a man who pays money to a prostitute for sex


\ ˈjän How to pronounce john (audio) \

Legal Definition of john

: a prostitute's client

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More from Merriam-Webster on john

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for john

Spanish Central: Translation of john

Britannica English: Translation of john for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about john

Comments on john

What made you want to look up john? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread as a report or rumor

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