noun (1)
\ 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


noun (2)
\ 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)

bath, bathroom, bog [British], can, cloakroom [British], comfort station, convenience [chiefly British], head, latrine, lavatory, loo [chiefly British], potty, restroom, toilet, washroom, water closet

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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

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 Photo: john david mercer/Reuters Six of the league’s 23 stadiums this season have artificial turf, including Minnesota United FC’s temporary home at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Rachel Bachman, WSJ, "Major League Soccer Final Showcases Real Growth, Fake Grass," 7 Dec. 2018 The range of john's mind's interest and experience was impressive and often surprising. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Former Senator Joe Lieberman's Speech at John McCain's Memorial Service," 1 Sep. 2018 Photo: john sibley/Reuters Bridging that gap for a squad as inexperienced as the U.S. can be more daunting than trying to score blindfolded. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "U.S. Men’s Soccer Team Remains Lost in the Wilderness," 16 Nov. 2018 In a classroom at the law school, john powell was teaching a seminar on civil rights. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "How Social-Media Trolls Turned U.C. Berkeley Into a Free-Speech Circus," 23 May 2016 The end of Ramadan is ushered in by Eid al-Fitr, a one- to three-day celebration abounding with culinary treats including sweet dishes like baklava and sheer khurma as well as more savory roti john and beef rendang. Maritza Moulite, CNN, "Eid al-Fitr: A healthy way to break the fast," 14 June 2018 Bahr said Jane Doe 2 and two male compatriots may have been planning to rob a ``john'' that night at the motel. City News Service,, "Man who raped two at gunpoint sentenced to life term," 29 May 2018 During a recent visit with his friend George Wein in New York City, the jazz composer Charles Lloyd excused himself to go to the john. James Sullivan,, "Jazz master Charles Lloyd’s never-ending quest leads to Newport," 18 May 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)

1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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

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More Definitions for john



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 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 take the place or position of

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