One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1US A short gown fastened in the back, worn by hospital patients.
- ‘Nicholson has a gift for physical comedy, swaying dizzily in a hospital johnny that unflatteringly reveals his derrière.’
2British 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!’
- ‘One fella on the bus seemed particularly pleased with himself and not unjustly the crowd called him a johnny.’
- ‘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.’
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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