where does the "Doe" come from in John and Jane Doe?


But why the term "Doe"? does it mean something?

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    John Doe

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    For other uses, see John Doe (disambiguation).

    In the United States, the name John Doe is used for a defendant or victim in a legal example or for a person whose identity is unknown or is intended to be anonymous. Male corpses whose identity is unknown are also known by the name John Doe. A female who is not known is referred to as Jane Doe. A child or baby whose identity is unknown can be referred to as Baby Doe, or in one particular case, as Precious Doe. Additional people in the same family may be called James Doe, Judy Doe, etc. An anonymous plaintiff is known as Richard Roe, or Jane Roe in the case of a woman. The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe". Likewise, the Nuttall encyclopedia states that John O'Noakes or John Noakes is a fictitious name for a litigious person, used by lawyers in actions of ejectment.

    In Friedman v. Ferguson, 850 F.2d 689 (4th Cir. 1988), the plaintiff pro se somewhat famously used the following creative variations on John Doe: Brett Boe, Carla Coe, Donna Doe, Frank Foe, Grace Goe, Harry Hoe, Marta Moe, Norma Noe, Paula Poe, Ralph Roe, Sammy Soe, Tommy Toe, Vince Voe, William Woe, Xerxes Xoe.

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  • I'll simply add that "Roe" has also be used in lieu of a person's actually name. The most famous use comes from the landmark Roe vs. Wade court decision, where Roe was in actuality a woman named Norma McCovey. It was used as a pseudonym in order to keep her identity unrevealed during the associated trials. It's not exactly the same usage as Doe as Roe was a deliberate hiding of an identity as opposed to Doe, which is used for an unknown identity, but the two are similar enough that I thought that it was worth mentioning.

    Source(s): Political pundits screaming at each other on TV and in person.
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  • 1 decade ago

    Doe can be used in a hypothetical situation for the purpose of argument or illustration

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  • 1 decade ago

    Read for yourself:


    It has been used in Laws, at least since 1659...

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