| #3 (permalink) Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:32 pm What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"?
Although it is theoretically possible that there is a connection between the "Q" in John Q Public and John Quincy Adams, that theory strikes me as pure speculation.
One difficulty with that theory is that Americans basically never refer to John Quincy Adams as John Q. Adams. In other words, when we refer to the sixth president, we generally do not shorten the middle name to an initial.
The one person who could say for sure what the "Q" is supposed to stand for would be the person who actually coined the expression -- Vaughn Shoemaker, who was an editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Daily News. John Q Public was the name he created for one of his cartoon characters. If this is really a burning question for you, I'd say the best way to find out the reason for his use of Q would be to do some research on Vaughn Shoemaker. However, I'm not sure whether he ever provided an explanation. (He died in 1991.)
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