One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1British Used as a name for an unknown man, often suggesting that he is unimportant or insignificant.‘the security johnny insists that you sign the visitors' book’
insignificant person, nobody, nonentity, non-person, gnat, insect, cipher, pygmyView synonyms
- ‘What would the advertising johnnies say about that insult to the Herald's core demographic?’
- ‘It was just those terrible scientist johnnies!’
- ‘Whereas the British want to see children's faces light up with joy, those foreign johnnies prefer to scare the living daylights out of them.’
- ‘One fella on the bus seemed particularly pleased with himself and not unjustly the crowd called him a johnny.’
- ‘I thought non-Brit readers might like to know that ‘rubber johnny’ is a playground/school yard slang for a condom.’
- ‘Rubber johnnies were strictly prohibited in the Republic.’
- ‘I remembered picking up a rubber johnny (presumably used) as it drifted past me and holding it up to the other volunteers, who all recoiled in horror.’
- ‘You can tell it's posh because food is served on a bed of other food, and there isn't a machine in the gents selling rubber johnnies.’
3US A gown fastened at the back, worn by hospital patients.
- ‘Nicholson has a gift for physical comedy, swaying dizzily in a hospital johnny that unflatteringly reveals his derrière.’
Late 17th century (in johnny (sense 1 of the noun)): pet form of the given name John; johnny (sense 2 of the noun) dates from the 1960s.
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