The Student Room Group

The origin of the euphemistic term 'John'

The term 'John' refers to a prostitutes client, but does anyone know when the term was coined or what it's origin
is? Or even from what century and which country it originates.
According to that oracle of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

"The term john may have originated from the frequent customer practice of giving one's name as "John", a common name in English-speaking countries, in an effort to maintain anonymity."

Note the use of the word "may".

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Client_(prostitution).
Reply 2
Yes I have seen that, but I am then unable to find out when it occured as I need to know whether it may have already been used in the 19th century or if it as more recent term?
Original post by MajorSwiss
Yes I have seen that, but I am then unable to find out when it occured as I need to know whether it may have already been used in the 19th century or if it as more recent term?

There some discussion on the origins of the word, and it's earliest usage, at https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/wordoriginsorg/where-did-the-term-john-originate-t10675.html. With that discussion is this comment:

"And HDAS has citations of "John" explicitly meaning a prostitute's customer from 1928."

https://www.etymonline.com/word/John has this to say:

"Meaning "prostitute's customer" is from 1911, probably from the common, and thus anonymous, name by which they identified themselves."

So, it seems that its usage in this specific sense might only date as far back as the early 20th century.

Quick Reply

Latest