Definition of Darby and Joan in English:

Share this entry

Darby and Joan

Pronunciation: /dɑːbiənˈdʒəʊn/


A devoted old married couple.
Example sentences
  • You might have sat, like Darby and Joan, and flattered each other; and billed and cooed like a pair of old pigeons on a perch.


Late 18th century: from a poem (1735) in the Gentleman's Magazine, which contained the lines ‘Old Darby, with Joan by his side … They're never happy asunder.’.

  • An anonymous poem of 1735 in The Gentleman's Magazine contained the lines: ‘Old Darby, with Joan by his side, / You've often regarded with wonder: / He's dropsical, she is sore-eyed, / Yet they're never happy asunder.’ People quickly began to use the names, whose exact origin is unknown, for any devoted old married couple.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Darby and Joan

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.