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What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"?



 
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What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"? #1 (permalink) Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:26 am   What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"?
 

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #526 "English Slang Idioms (110)", question 4

"They don't care about that issue, Mark. All ......... wants to know about is that taxes won't go up and that education standards will get better," Senator Schlitzenborkel said.

(a) John Q. Public
(b) G. I. Joe
(c) Jack of All Trades
(d) Working Stiffs

English Language Proficiency Tests, Advanced Level

ESL/EFL Test #526 "English Slang Idioms (110)", answer 4

"They don't care about that issue, Mark. All John Q. Public wants to know about is that taxes won't go up and that education standards will get better," Senator Schlitzenborkel said.

Correct answer: (a) John Q. Public

Your answer was: incorrect
"They don't care about that issue, Mark. All G. I. Joe wants to know about is that taxes won't go up and that education standards will get better," Senator Schlitzenborkel said.
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What does the"Q" stand for in "John Q. Public.? Cannot find it anywhere.

Starr
Starr
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What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"? #2 (permalink) Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:07 am   What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"?
 

The Q might be traced back to John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States.

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What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"? #3 (permalink) Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:32 pm   What does the "Q" stand for in "John Q. Public"?
 

Hello Starr,

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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