a common man
Henk en Ingrid
Hinz und Kunz
Jan met de pet
Jane Q. Citizen
Jane Q. Public
Jane Q. Taxpayer
Joe the Plumber
Joe the Plumber’s
John Q. Citizen
John Q. Public
John Q. Taxpayer
Koos van der Merwe
manden på gaden
Ola og Kari Nordmann
Otto Normalverbraucher & Lieschen Müller
Tom, Dick and Harry
Joe Public may refer to a generic name used informally to denote a hypothetical member of society deemed a ‘common man’ in the United Kingdom, known as John Q. Public in the United States. He is presumed to represent the randomly selected ‘man on the street.’
Similar terms include John Q. Citizen and John Q. Taxpayer, or Jane Q. Public, Jane Q. Citizen, and Jane Q. Taxpayer for a woman. For multiple people, ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ is often used.
Roughly equivalent are the names ‘Joe Six-pack, ‘Joe Blow’, the nowadays less popular ‘Joe Doakes’ and ‘Joe Shmoe’, the last of which implies a lower-class citizen (from the Yiddish ‘schmo’ [simpleton], or possibly Hebrew ‘sh'mo’ [(what's)-his-name].
In the United States, the term ‘John Q. Public’ is used by law enforcement officers to refer to an individual with no criminal bent, as opposed to terms like ‘perp’ (short for perpetrator). An example of its use: Candidate John McCain referenced a similar symbol, this time represented by an actual person, saying that Senator Obama’s tax plan would hurt Joe the Plumber’s bottom line. A fifteen-minute debate on this issue ensued, with both candidates speaking directly to ‘Joe’.
The term ‘John Q. Public’ originates from a character created by Vaughn Shoemaker, cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News, in 1922. Later Jim Lange, cartoonist for The Oklahoman, created version of John Q. Public, whom he sometimes also called ‘Mr. Voter’. Lange's character was described as: bespectacled, moustachioed, fedora wearing’.
Variants of John Q. Public in other countries are:
Israel: ‘Israel Israeli’
Ireland: ‘Seán Citizen’
Spanish speaking countries: ‘Juan Pérez’
Germany: ‘Hinz und Kunz’,
‘Otto Normalverbraucher & Lieschen Müller’
Norway: ‘Ola og Kari Nordmann’.
South Africa: ‘Koos van der Merwe’, ‘Piet Pompies’
France: ‘Monsieur/Madame Tout-le-monde’
Denmark: ‘manden på gaden’ [the man on the street]
Belgium: ‘Jan Janssen’, ‘Piet Pietersen’, ‘Jos Joskens’, ‘Jan Kak’
The Netherlands: ‘Jan Modaal’, ‘Jan met de pet’, ‘Henk en Ingrid’
See also John Doe and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
‘John Q. Public’, Wikipedia, retrieved 13 October 2013
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