\ 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 John (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 Outdoorsmen who might be tempted to scoff at portable commodes have clearly never tried to dig a latrine in ground that’s rock-solid frozen, or been stuck in an ice-fishing shack over a long weekend, with the nearest port-a-john nowhere in sight. Outdoor Life, "Reliable camping toilets for when nature calls," 23 Apr. 2020 Fresh cut by uncle @bumper3077, the man responsible for john’s beard and hair his entire life! Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Chrissy Teigen Just Shared the Cutest Video of Her Son Getting a Haircut," 26 Jan. 2020 Trolling motors have come a long way since the days of that old tiller-drive unit hanging off the transom of Grandpa’s leaky john boat. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "3 Reasons to Own a GPS Enabled Trolling Motor," 15 Nov. 2019 To the right stood a porta-john, attendant to a nearby construction site: Kim’s neighbor was erecting a barn that Bev suspected would actually serve as a stealth rental cottage. J. Robert Lennon, The New Yorker, "The Loop," 19 Aug. 2019 Before you make morning coffee, take a shower or flush the john or run the washing machine to bring cold, pure water into your plumbing, says Judy Davids, community engagement specialist in Royal Oak. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Lead in your home's water? 2 items around your house could help you find out," 14 Nov. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for john

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for john

Cite this Entry

“John.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/john. Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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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

Britannica English: Translation of john for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about john

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