Definition of John Doe in English:

John Doe


North American
  • 1An anonymous party, typically the plaintiff, in a legal action.

    • ‘Filing a John Doe complaint is ‘taking a belt-and-suspenders approach,’ the county attorney said.’
    • ‘More to the point, if he really does want to use the DMCA to subpoena the information why not file a John Doe lawsuit and then subpoena the information?’
    • ‘These ISPs charged all but nine of the defendants as John Does at the time the suits were filed.’
    • ‘For prosecutors, indicting John Does through their DNA might seem more than fair.’
    • ‘‘We have arrest warrants for everybody that we want to arrest, including the John Does,’ she said.’
    1. 1.1informal A hypothetical average man.
      • ‘I dunno, you've never dated and next thing I know I see you making out with some John Doe.’
      • ‘They're running tests on a John Doe who bears a striking resemblance to Sonny Corinthos.’
      • ‘They're simply interviews that were trying to obtain the location of a John Doe.’
      • ‘The company said the John Does posted ‘defamatory and disparaging material misrepresentations.’’
      • ‘Here the Josephines and Mataywenes and Boulevesses might just as well be John Does.’
      • ‘It was almost as if this John Doe had not even existed.’
      • ‘Dan, we only have a few seconds left, but there has been some speculation in resent days, fresh speculation, about a John Doe number two.’
      • ‘The lawsuit does not mention the names of players or exact dates; it simply lists 500 players as John Does 1 to 500.’
      • ‘Look, I was at the morgue last night, yeah, but I never saw this John Doe, or anyone else.’


Mid 18th century: originally in legal use as a name of a fictitious plaintiff, corresponding to Richard Roe, used to represent the defendant.


John Doe

/ˌjän ˈdō/