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from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Used as a name in legal proceedings to designate an unknown or unidentified man or boy, especially the second of two such persons, the first usually being named John Doe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an unknown or fictitious party to legal proceedings


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The term came to be applied to business entities as a shorter version of, for example, "Richard Roe & Company" i.e., Richard Roe and a bunch of other guys who are his partners.

    Capitalism: You Look Marvelous, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • The first person has transferred the property to the second person, who thereby holds the property for the benefit of the third person. defines a class of structures which take the form of labelled 4-tuples, as for example (writing the label on the left): the first person = Alfonso Arblaster; the property = the derelict land behind Alfonso's house; the second person = John Doe; the third person = Richard Roe.

    Model Theory

  • In ejectment, as was mentioned in the Prologue, plaintiff had to assert an imaginary lease, with shadow men, often with names like John Doe or Richard Roe, in the picture.

    A History of American Law

  • To skirt complicated legal procedures, these suits would be brought by a fictitious Mr. Doe against an equally nonexistent Richard Roe.


  • I will have a ‘John Doe and Richard Roe’ — a fine action of ejectment.


  • We know that it became standard by the time of Blackstone to use the name of John Doe for the fictitious plaintiff and Richard Roe for the equally unreal defendant in such cases actions of ejectment. JOHN DOE'S COUSINS.

  • Chief Justice Frederic Pendarvis leaned his elbows on the bench and considered the three black-coated lawyers before him in the ac'tion of John Doe, Richard Roe, et alii, An Unincorporated Voluntary Association, versus The Colonial Government of Zarathustra.

    The Fuzzy Papers

  • And it was pretty well established that those four had been the John Doe, Richard Roe, et alfl, who had been represented in court by Ingermann just after the Pendarvis Decisions.

    The Fuzzy Papers

  • For him was reserved a fame of a different sort, less glorious but perhaps more lasting - the fame that attaches to the names of John Doe and Richard Roe.

    Best Detective Stories

  • The police didn't have their names, so the warrant read for John Doe and Richard Roe.

    The Radio Boys at the Sending Station Making Good in the Wireless Room


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