1 of 2

noun (1)

[probably short for johnny, johnny house privy] : toilet
: a prostitute's client


2 of 2

noun (2)

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

called also John the Baptist

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

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
Not a single john was named in the conspiracy, despite there likely being hundreds. Anita Chabriacolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 30 Oct. 2022 The forced execution of Flora by Joanie behind closed whorehouse doors evokes Trixie’s murder of an abusive john in the pilot (his corpse becoming pig chow). Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture, 20 Dec. 2021 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, 23 Apr. 2020 Fresh cut by uncle @bumper3077, the man responsible for john’s beard and hair his entire life! Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, 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, 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, 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, 14 Nov. 2019 That slow circumnavigation past highway and ditch, the mountain of gravel and the porta-john. J. Robert Lennon, The New Yorker, 19 Aug. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'john.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

from the name John

Noun (2)

Late Latin Johannes, from Greek Iōannēs, from Hebrew Yōhānān

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1906, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near john

Cite this Entry

“John.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the fourth Gospel in the New Testament see bible
: any of three short didactic letters addressed to early Christians and included in the New Testament see bible

Legal Definition


: a prostitute's client

Biographical Definition

John 1 of 3

biographical name (1)

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


2 of 3

biographical name (2)

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


3 of 3

biographical name (3)

Augustus Edwin 1878–1961 British painter and etcher

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