John Q. Public

variants: less commonly

John Q.


John Q. Citizen

Definition of John Q. Public

  1. 1 :  a member of the public or the community :  person, citizen just another John Q. Citizen on the road — Springfield (Massachusetts) Union

  2. 2 :  the public or the community personified Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public suffered no great deprivations — Domestic Commerce

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:

  • 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Origin and Etymology of john q. public

from the name John + the initial Q. + public or citizen

First Known Use: 1937

Seen and Heard

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


feeling or affected by lethargy

Get Word of the Day daily email!