Definition of John Doe in English:

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John Doe



North American
1 Law An anonymous party, typically the plaintiff, in a legal action.
Example sentences
  • For prosecutors, indicting John Does through their DNA might seem more than fair.
  • More to the point, if he really does want to use the DMCA to subpoena the information why not file a John Doe lawsuit and then subpoena the information?
  • ‘We have arrest warrants for everybody that we want to arrest, including the John Does,’ she said.
1.1 informal A hypothetical average man.
Example sentences
  • Dan, we only have a few seconds left, but there has been some speculation in resent days, fresh speculation, about a John Doe number two.
  • They're simply interviews that were trying to obtain the location of a John Doe.
  • The lawsuit does not mention the names of players or exact dates; it simply lists 500 players as John Does 1 to 500.


Mid 18th century: originally in legal use as a name of a fictitious plaintiff, corresponding to Richard Roe, used to represent the defendant.

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