Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 10 years ago

where does the term "john/jane doe" originate?

i know that it is used to label unnamed persons, but why did they pick those to label them as?

2 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    "John Doe" was a fictitious name made up for a certain legal process. Landowners who had been dispossessed had to go through legal hoops to get their land back. The only way they could do it was by pretending that a fictitious person was wrongfully the owner, bringing legal action against the fictitious person, and through the course of the case, incidentally proving that they themselves were the rightful owners. Various names were used for this purpose, but John Doe is the name that stuck with us for anonymous, could-be-anyone purposes.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The defendant was Richard Roe, later of Roe v. Wade fame. His counterpart is also a Jane.

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