Green’s Dictionary of Slang

john n.2

1. a carman, a coachman.

[Ire]Freeman’s Jrnl 23 Oct. 4/3: Instead of paying the ‘John’ he began to laugh at him, and turn him into ridicule.

2. in Und. uses, a victim, a source of money.

(a) (US Und., also james) an easy victim, a sucker; a free spender.

[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. viii: Every time the Johns would fall, except in Milwaukee, and nobody ever got anything out of that town anyway. [Ibid.] Ch. xiv: When you are out with a James go to it and eat your head off. But when you are out with some one in the business or a newspaper man be circumscribe.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 50: john [...] General currency among the demi-monde. A ‘captain’; a ‘sucker’; an amorous fool with money and free love proclivities.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 25: Sometimes the Johns (suckers) would go to Harrison Street Station and put up a holler.
[US]A. Wallace ‘Body Ransom’ in Spicy Detective Stories Nov. 🌐 What the hell do you do with all your dough? [...] Blowin’ it in on fancy duds to get the Johns all hot and bothered, huh?
[US]W.R. Burnett High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 414: He’d get some john steamed up about how they could make a hundred thousand dollars.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 53: I know enough rich Johns and toney theatrical people we can get as a starter.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 47: Maker, here come a john.
[US]J. Crumley One to Count Cadence (1987) 237: You’re obviously as hip as Richard Nixon, but you’re good enough to fool these johns.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Russian Blackie’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 102: I met a cat I had become friendly with who was a kind of john or mark.

(b) (US Und.) any law-abiding man.

[US]J. Lait ‘Second from the End’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 189: Many a chorus girl preferred him to some flimsy John, and he had met a few that he might have fancied.
[US]H.C. Witwer Roughly Speaking 7: She daily obsrved the Johns gulp and satagger away dazed when me or Hazel tossed ’em a charitable smile.

(c) (orig. US) a female or male prostitute’s client.

[[UK]Randiana 52: Now all you young ladies take warning had better / [...] / When you treat John make him wear a French letter].
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 50: john [...] General currency among the demi-monde [...] a man in a contemptuous sense. Example: ‘She’s got a John keeping her.’.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 49: On another occasion, I picked up a John in Broadway and took him to the Coleman House.
[US](con. 1900s) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 89: There’ll be plenty of Johns in there with the girls.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 22: The girls sat there while the johns (customers) moped around giving them the once-over.
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 11: (in gay use) john: NYC term for an auntie with financial potentialities, on a long- or short-term basis.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 144: The most important links between our world and the strange world prostitutes inhabit are the customers, the tricks who make the profession profitable. Court attachés call them ‘Johns.’ as short for ‘John Does.’.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 147: [of a male prostitute] I’m fucking this citizen so I think, ‘A straight John at last’.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 329: Saturday night was a time for first things, even for girls turning their first tricks, pulling their first real John.
[US]‘Philip Barrows’ Whores, Queers & Others I [ebook] ‘I've [i.e. a man] got an old John in New York who gives me fifty every time!’.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 43: ‘She prefers to pick up a john and entice him to take her to a hotel’.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 189: She would like to find a millionaire of her own, a rich john who wanted to marry her.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 67: (in gay use) Johns go ape over sailors.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 99: County ground where the city D.A. would be just another john caught with his pants down.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 133: After a couple of hidings from vicious Johns and several heavies by the coppers.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 23 Feb. 9: A bare-bottomed working girl [...] scrubbing at her privates while her john adjusts his trousers.
[US]E. White My Lives 103: (in gay use) At night the Square [...] became still seedier and attracted a few [gay] hustlers and johns.
[US]G. Phillips ‘Slicers’ Serenade of Steel’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Only the working girls and potential johns cruising by getting an eye and earful were out.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 191: The call of the early-bird-purple-sequined-halter-top-prostitute caterwauling to poential johns.
[Ire]L. McInerney Glorious Heresies 14: Was he a john whose longtime kink was climbing in through skylights?

(d) in attrib. use of sense 1(c).

[US]R. Price Lush Life 204: Two years ago his son gets picked up in a John sweep on Allen .

(e) (US black) a gullible white man.

[[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 111: John. — A free spender, probably from John D. Rockefeller].
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 141: John — A square, jaded, white male seeking thrills in colored communities.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Negro Folklore 485: John. A dupe, a stooge, a sucker.
[US]C. Himes Pinktoes 51: In Harlem idiom a square is a lain, a doe, a John, a mark — in other parlance a fool, a chump, a sucker, a simpleton.

(f) (US black) a man susceptible to feminine trickery.

[US]R.D. Pharr Giveadamn Brown (1997) 74: He wasn’t cool now [...] But what was to be expected [...] if he wasn’t frantic, he wouldn’t be a john.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 244: John Male who is easily duped or exploited, especially by females.
[NZ]H. Beaton Outside In Act II: Yous’re worse than the fucken johns at the ‘Heaven’s Scent Strip’!

3. (Aus./US) a boyfriend.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Susie Gannon’s Young Man’ in Benno and Some of the Push 100: ‘What-oh, girls!’ she cried, ‘little Gannon’s got a John iv her own.’.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 34: I’ve got a John now, I’ve ’ad ’im a month on trial.
[US]B. Hecht A Thousand and One Afternoons [ebook] [G]als and their Johns lookin’ for some quiet place to spoon.

4. the penis [abbr. John Thomas n. (1)].

[[UK] ‘Gingling Johnny’ in Rambler’s Flash Songster 16: Braw Muckle John was a bonny Highland man].
[UK]T.S. Eliot ‘Fragments’ Inventions of the March Hare in Ricks (1996) 314: O daughter dear daughter I think you are a fool / To run against a man with a john like a mule.
[US]‘J.M. Hall’ Anecdota Americana I 18: ‘Now let’s see how big your John really is,’ the woman thought. ‘Unbutton my pants,’ said the Alderman.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 36: There was a young fellow of Harrow / Whose john was the size of a marrow.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 328: When they get to heaven, they’ll grab St. Peter’s john, / And in a loud and ringing voice, they’ll cry, ‘Shove on, shove on!’.
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 184: My name is Jim Taylor / My john is a whaler / And my balls weigh ninety-nine pound / If you know any ladies / Who want any babies / Just tell ’em Jim Taylor’s in town.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 63/2: john penis; short for ‘John Thomas’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

5. a skilled, professional tramp [such a top-class tramp is well dressed and thus resembles a ‘normal’ citizen].

Hobo Songs n.p.: The John got busy and took a risk [HDAS].
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 132: The well-dressed boys were the Johns and the plingers, the professional tramps who could go out on the drag and get most anything they wanted.
[US](con. c.1910) J. Stevens Big Jim Turner 158: We aim no trouble for any man who is good work stock and no john .
[US] (ref. to c.1930s) R.A. Burns Knights of the Road 92: But for years afterward yeggs paid homage to their fallen martyr – the best of the ‘Johns.’.

6. (orig. US college) the lavatory, usu. for men [? abbr. cuz john n.].

[[US] Harvard College regulation n.p.: No freshman shall mingo against the college wall or go into the fellow’s cuzjohn].
[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 241: The next few days he’d hardly be sleeping, eating, or going to the john.
[US]H. McCoy They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in Four Novels (1983) 10: I was so weak I used to have to crawl to the john.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 30 Oct. [synd. col.] Somebody’s got to stop cats trying to cruise the numbers baron’s chick while he’s in the Jawn.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 177: I [...] made a brief visit to the john.
[US]Kerouac letter 2 Jan. in Charters I (1995) 141: I heard some of the cats discussing him in the john.
[US]J. Weidman Price Is Right 96: Deedee told me in the john at nine sharp that Larry Ide had been in since a little after eight.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 71: When a queer approached me in a bar john I took out the gun.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 54: ‘You poor old bastard’, I said [...] as he sat there on my john, and almost crying.
[UK]R.L. Pike Mute Witness (1997) 40: I didn’t move from here [...] Not even to go to the john!
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 129: Some campers there a john had made.
[UK]K. Amis letter 11 Mar. in Leader (2000) 694: Interesting that I spent the whole 6½ weeks in Mexico entirely free of the shits, only to start hareing it to the john within 24 hours of leaving the place.
[UK]A. Burgess Enderby Outside in Complete Enderby (2002) 324: You’ll find it in the john library.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 163: I went into a mirrored john.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 48: Ain’t none of the rooms got a private john.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 91: C excused herself, and she and Despie split for the john.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Danger Tree 144: She’s in the john at the moment.
[Aus]‘Ricki Francis’ Kings X Hooker 78: ‘How do I know how you got it? ... Off a john seat or maybe you’ve got a fancy man, huh?’.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 104: Intelligent human beings do not go around doing it in public johns.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 36: Every single task [...] from signing out, to going to the john, was painful to him.
[UK]Kirk & Madsen After The Ball 309: Why can’t a Harvard boy go to the john in this dump without being groped by a seedy queer!?
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 251: A jane also is a toilet for women, i.e., a female john.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 239: I hope that asshole hiding in the john is the highlight of your [...] life.
[UK]Guardian G2 7 Dec. 7: Moving the john into the powder room isn’t enough.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 33: He slept alone. Barb slept in the john.
[US]J. Franzen Corrections 419: She fired the dishwasher who’d tied off in the john.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 151: The janitor, I believe, was still in the john.
[US]J. Stahl OG Dad 128: I carry my four-month-old little sweetheart into what my mother used to call ‘the john’.
[US]J. Hannaham Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit 291: I wonder do he even get up to go to the john.
[UK]J. Meades Empty Wigs (t/s) 333: I washed down the Hyper-Lax-Extra powder with fizzy water. I went to the john.

7. (gay) an older man who supports a younger one without actually sharing a long-term relationship with him.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]J.P. Stanley ‘Homosexual Sl.’ in AS XLV:1/2 57: John n Someone who supports younger men without entering into a permanent relationship.

8. (US) one’s signature [abbr. John Hancock n.].

[US] in DARE.
[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS II.

9. (US gay) among lesbians, a man who associates with female homosexuals.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.

10. a condom. [note johnny n.1 (13)].

[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 189: John Prostitutes’ term for a client or for a sheath contraceptive. The term is used contemptuously in both cases.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

11. (US) the menstrual period.

[US]B. Hannah Geronimo Rex 36: When ‘John was home’ the first time, that is, when she had her first menstrual period, she missed a day of school [...] she would say, ‘I was with John’.

12. (US drugs) heroin [fig. use of John n. (1), based on boy n.2 (5a) and the idea that heroin is a ‘masculine’ drug].

[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 62: They called it ‘girl’ or ‘Jane’ or ‘Missy’ in feminine contrasts to ‘boy’ or ‘John’ or ‘Mister’ for king heroin.

In compounds

john walker (n.) [John n. (1) + SE walk, i.e. to remove]

(US Und.) a security man in a brothel.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 38: A common term in old-fashioned whorehouses is johnwalker; meaning a man who stands by ready to ‘handle’ Johns if they give the girls any trouble.

In phrases