Green’s Dictionary of Slang

John Chinaman n.

also China John, Johnny, Johnny Chinaman

1. a derog. term for a Chinese man.

[UK]B. Hall Narrative of Voyage to Java, China etc. 9: The seamen [...] joking and talking with them, apparently [...] not caring whether John Chinaman, as they called him, understood them or not .
[UK]‘Boz’ Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi 224: Joe affected to astonish John China-man with his song of ‘Hot Codlins’.
[UK]W. Kent Guardian 23 Jan. 2/4: We’ve take the shine / Out of poor Johnny Chinaman’s Father.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Oct. 3/1: [heading] John Chinaman. One of the flashest-looking,. moon-faced first cousins of the Sun [etc.].
[US]Soulé, Gihon & Nisbet Annals of S.F. 380: He could not pretend to compete with the poverty-stricken, meek and cheap ‘coolie,’ as so John Chinaman was now called by many.
[Aus]‘A. Pendragon’ Queen of the South 156: These Johnny Chinamen is rare coves for a deal, so twiggin.
[UK]Aldershot Milit. Gaz. 30 May 3/4: Arriving at the Celestial Empire [...] and having settled matters with Johnny Chinaman, the Battalion embarked for England.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 44: There is no more avaricious or money-grubbing man in the world than John Chinaman.
[US]B. Harte Luck of Roaring Camp (1873) 245: [story title] John Chinaman.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 155: Johnny, or John Chinaman, for under both names is he known in California, has for years given rise to angry debates in legislative halls, and to vehement discussions in public journals.
[UK]Manchester Courier 6 Sept. 3/4: We pursue our search through another dozen or two of boarding-houses, all more or less of the type of Johnny the Greek’s, or Johnny the Chinaman’s.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier 30 Aug. 6/2: John Chinaman has once more outwitted the Fanqui in the matter of petty gambling.
[UK]C. Dickens Jr. Dict. London n.p.: Johnny, whose head and stomach are seasoned by the unceasing opium pipes of forty years, [...] toasts another little dab of the thick brown drug in readiness for the next comer.
A. Trumble Heathen Chinee 35: There is a prevailing impression among the general public that John Chinaman [is] a mild, inoffensive and law-abiding citizen.
[UK]Western Times 22 Aug. 3/3: Perhaps they find Johnny Chinaman one too many for them.
[Aus]J.S. Borlase Blue Cap, the Bushranger 32/1: John Chinaman [...] grinned and bore it, as it was the custom of his countrymen to do.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 13/1: ‘We may study ethnology to the end of our days, but John Chinaman is a social problem that we never shall solve.’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 26 Oct. 2/1: A polite looking Chow [...] got into a train at King-street. It was a bitterly cold day, and as Johnny took his seat [etc].
[US]J.A. Riis How the Other Half Lives 92: All attempts to make an effective Christian of John Chinaman will remain abortive in this generation.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 Feb. 4/7: So much has been said [...] concerning John Chinaman and his wicked ways.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 14 Nov. 2/5: Johnny Chinaman is squealing — ‘Boo-hoo; he hurtee me welly much’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Apr. 4/7: This consistent card met Ah Fat at the back door and gaily asked — Well, Johnnie, how is it that the Japs killed so many of your countrymen.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 4 May 495: John Chinaman has known many things for a long time.
[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 12 Dec. 4/3: We’ve done with Brother Boer, and have an urgent appointment with Johnny Chinaman.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Dec. 26/1: Shuffling on, shuffling on, Sunda Singh and China John.
[US]H.A. Franck Zone Policeman 88 165: Add to this that the negro tailor’s runner often has permission to come while the owner is away for suits in need of pressing, that John Chinaman must come and claw the week’s washing out from under the bed.
[US]E. Walrond Tropic Death (1972) 106: Dat’ dyam John Chinaman ’im not gwine giv’ me any-t’ing.
[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 270: She never had anything to do with a John Chinaman during working hours.
[US]J.B. McMillan ‘New Amer. Lexical Evidence’ in AS XX:1 36: john chinaman. Appellation for a Chinese.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 9 Aug. 7/1: ‘Good day, John Chinaman!’ ‘Me no John Chinaman! Me Yu Yu!’.
[US](con. late 19C) S. Longstreet Wilder Shore 147: John Chinaman As A Pioneer.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 280: Other generics include: [...] John, any man [...], whether alone, as in the prostitute’s faceless john, or in such combinations as John Bull (an Englishman), John Chinaman.

2. (US) rice.

[US]Great Bend Trib. (KS) 2 July 3/4: Rice has a lot of names, ranging from ‘moonshine’ or ‘swamp seed’ to ‘John Chinaman’’.