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Anonymous Names

In America, "John Doe" is the name used for an anonymous, unknown or generic person. There are other variations, including Jane Doe (female), John/Jane Smith, John Q. Public, Joe Blow, and Joe/Sally Sixpack.

Here is how you say "John Doe" in other languages:


Afrikaans (South Africa): In Afrikaans, an indigenous language of South Africa derived mainly from Dutch, the anonymous person is most often "Koos van der Merwe". Koos is the short form of Jacobus, which is a variant of Jacob.

-- Courtesy of Hans Pietersen

Akan (?) (Ghana): Kwasi Mensa

-- Courtesy of Joseph Eiwuley

Bangla (?) (Bangladesh): In Bangladesh we don't exactly have anything for John Doe but we do use Rahim and Karim which are two very comon names.

-- Courtesy of Snehasish Barua

Bulgarian: Ivan Petrov or Peter Petrov (Bulgarian equivalents of John Doe and John Smith in Western culture) - I suppose that these names were coined by the mere fact that Ivan and Peter are among the most popular male names in Bulgarian.

Another name, used to denote a person with filthy manners and bad behaviour is Bay Ganyo, after a hero in a book with the same name, written in the late 19th century by one of the best Bulgarian writers, Aleko Konstantinov. You can see that the initials of the name, "BG", stand for the international abreviation of Bulgaria.

-- Courtesy of Martin Ivanov

Cantonese: In Hong Kong an anonymous person is usually called Chan Siu Ming

-- Courtesy of Karen Pita

Croatian: Ivan Horvat (pronounced IVAN, not AJVAN, HORVaT). Horvat is a widespread last name in Croatia becouse we (as a nation) call ourselves "hrvati" and Ivan is a standard central European name (Slovenian surogate is Janez).

-- Courtesy of Ivan Kilich

Czech: Jan Novak or Karel Novak. There are three pages each in the Prague phone book dedicated to people of these names.

-- Courtesy of Milos Dvorak (a fairly generic Czech name itself)

Danish: In Denmark, most commonly used for an anonymous name is Jens Hansen, since Jens is the most common first name, and Hansen is the most common last name.

-- Courtesy of Nicholai Wegelbye Nissen

Dutch: The corresponding expression is "Jan Modaal".

-- Courtesy of Johan Santesson, Anders Hesselbom and Fredrik Wellner

Dutch: Anther name for an unknown person is "Jan Lul" which is a somewhat derogatory term.

-- Courtesy of Maaike and Dorien

Dutch: A name you may use is Jan met de Pet (John with the Cap) referring to, in the past, lower class people wearing caps instead of a hat, but mostly used as an indication in plural form. But all these names don't really mean John Doe, we in Holland use just N.N.

-- Courtesy of Adriaan van t Wout

Jan Modaal and Jan Lul are mostly used in Holland (the Netherlands), while Jan Met De Pet is better known in Flanders (Belgium).

More often used in Flanders though is "Jan Janssen" and "Piet Pietersen."

-- Courtesy of Robby Verschueren

English (Australia): Fred Nurk, as in "afraid not" in a deep Aussie accent. Joe Farnarkle is another, a farnarkler is a bullshit artist.

-- Courtesy of Jeremy Ham

English (UK): Joe Bloggs

-- Courtesy of Jamie Futter

There is a theatrical convention [in the UK], that when actors or opera singers take a role which they don't want to be indentified with, for whatever reason, they can appear in the cast lists or printed programmes under the name "Walter Plinge".

-- Courtesy of Jo Turner

Mr Plinge was a real person; a tavernkeeper of the 17th century who served many actors and wanted to be an actor himself. Out of consideration for his service, the theatre company put his name in the programme whenever an actor didn't wish to be named.

The US equivalent is "George Spelvin" (who seems to be totally fictitious). A pornographic film actress of the 60s and 70s achieved some fame under the name Georgina Spelvin (real name Michelle Graham).

"A N Other" is well known in the UK and in the horseracing listings of the UK newspapers of my childhood I often saw "A P Prentice" as a jockey - presumably one assigned from the junior ranks after the listings had gone to print.

-- Courtesy of Steve Bell

Esperanto: I have sometimes found "I. U. Ajn" to represent such a name, as the expression "iu ajn" (approx. pron. in English: eeh -- ooh - eynn) actually means "anybody".

-- Courtesy of James Rezende Piton

Finnish: Matti Meikäläinen or Maija Meikäläinen (female version).

-- Courtesy of Lasse Ojanen and Mika Kähkönen

French: In French Canada (Quebec) one name used is "Jos Bleau" (pronounced "Joe Blow"). In France one uses Jean Dupont.

-- Courtesy of Allan Simon

French: Michel Dupont

-- Courtesy of Alex Bedard
Gaelic (Ireland): We use A.N. Other, because we never liked Joe Bloggs.
-- Courtesy of Colin Larkin

German: Otto Normalverbraucher (literal translation: Otto Ordinary-Consumer); Lieschen Müller (Lieschen is a form of Lisa, Müller=Miller); Jedermann (meaning "Everyman" -- see Hugo von Hoffmansthal's famous play with the same name).

-- Courtesy of Roland J. Graffé, Berlin

Otto Normalzocker is used online and when talking about games and Normalzocker would be translated as standard-player, e.g. "This game was designed for Otto Normalzocker".

-- Courtesy of Captain Tolia Ren

Erika Mustermann. Muster means "example" and mann means "man". The name Erica Mustermann was first used when new passports were introduced in Germany in the early nineties. The sample passport displayed was issued to Mrs. Erika Mustermann. You may see an example here: http://134.102.55.200/haupt/erika/.

-- Courtesy of Andrea, Cologne, Germany

I'm a German to English translator & the version I've always come across on form letters, etc., is "Max Mustermann", with "Erika Mustermann" a less widely-used female version.

-- Courtesy of Stephen Hunter

German (Austria): The most common name is "Hans Meier". It is often written as Mayr, Meir, Mair, Maier, Mayer, or Mayr.

-- Courtesy of Wolfgang Fischer, Austria

Greek: We use "Aristóteles Amadópulus" which is from The Simpsons.

-- Courtesy of José Julián Lopera P.

Hebrew: formal use "ploni almoni".

-- Courtesy of John Cowan

Israel: In Israel, ads featuring sample photos of credit cards etc. usually feature the name "Israel Israeli".

-- Courtesy of Yaniv Eidelstein
Hindi: In India, a funny name for an anonymous person is Anamika.

-- Courtesy of Jyoti Advani

Hungarian: According to my grandfather, who was a police officer in Budapest, unidentified crime victims (murders, etc.) are typically labeled as "Gyula Kovacs" (pronounced Yoo-La). Kovacs is the most common last name in Hungary, much like Smith is in Canada and the USA, and Gyula translates roughly into English as Julius.

-- Courtesy of Daniel Kovacs

Icelandic: In Icelandic John Doe is Jón Jónsson because it is such a common name. Međal-Jón is also used and that basicaly means "Average John" and for women you use Jóna Jónsdóttir and Međal-Jóna.

-- Courtesy of Throunn, Iceland

Indonesian: Si Polan, probably borrowed from Fulano. "Si" is like Mr/Ms.

-- Courtesy of John Cowan

Italian: Orphans are sometimes called "Esposito". It means "exposed" and they were exposed to the elements when they were abandoned on doorsteps.

-- Courtesy of Brian Esposito

Italian: The Italian equivalent of John Doe is Mario Rossi. It is the most common name, so it is often used to indicate an average person.

To refer to unknown people, we use Tizio, Caio and Sempronio. Tizio is always the first one, and you use the other two (in that order) if you need more than one. A bit like Fulano/Mengano/Sultano in Spanish, I guess. Some use Filano (obviousy related to the Spanish Fulano) together with the other three.

Another generic name is Pinco Pallino, although this would never be used in formal situations.

-- Courtesy of Stefano J. Attardi

"Tal dei Tali" (it could be somehow translated with something like "Man Mc Mister") it's pretty much used in the common language to indicate a random or an imaginary person, although the best anonymous and more common name is definitely "Mario Rossi", there's even a cartoon character named after it: il "Signor Rossi" (Mr. Rossi). This last expression indicates as well "Mr. Anyone".

-- Courtesy of Giorgio

Japanese: In Japan, the name Nanashi No Gombe is used as a joke when a person forgets to write their name on an application or a test, etc. Loosely translated it means No-Name Gombe and its an inference on the stupidity of a person for forgetting their name.

-- Courtesy of NYD

Korean: In Korea (including N. Korea), they use "Hong, Guil Dong". It is a name of the man who was a hero of the famous novel written in the 18th Century, similar to Robin Hood of England. Hong is a family name, first name is Guil-Dong. As you may know, Oriental people (Chinese, Korean, and Japanese) don't have a middle name. And they say the family name first.

-- Courtesy of Joon Lee

Lithuanian: John Doe would be Jonas Jonaitis.

-- Courtesy of Skirma Ragaisyte from Vilnius, Lithuania

Malay: Si Anu. "Anu" has the same connotation as the British "thingy" as in the word "thingamajig." "Si" is a word used in front of a first name, which is used in street talk when referring to someone, e.g. "Si Ahmad", "Si Nora" etc.

-- Courtesy of Jas Emmar

Maltese: In Maltese, an anonymous person is usually called Joe Borg, which really happens to be a very common name.

-- Courtesy of Angelo Dalli

Norwegian: formally "N.N.", short for "nomen nescio", Latin for "I don't know the name". Informally Ola (m.) and Kari (f.) Nordmann. Ola and Kari Dunk are stupid/redneck Norwegians.

-- Courtesy of John Cowan and Omar El Vikingo

Polish: In Polish it is "Jan Kowalski" (prounced "Yaan Kovaalsky") and it is equivalent to "John Smith" in English.

-- Courtesy of Krzysztof Gucwa and Adam

Portugese: "José Ninguém" means "Joseph Nobody." Of course, "Nobody" is not a last name, so when we want to imply a true generic name like "John Doe", we rather say "Joăo da Silva." At least here in Brazil, "Silva" is the most common last name.

We have a feminine form, too: "Maria das Couves". However, it's much less used than "Joăo da Silva" and it's not to be taken as a true name like "Jane Doe." Actually, it's hard to avoid laughing when we understand that "Maria das Couves" means "Mary of Cabbages."

-- Courtesy of Carlos Marques and Flávio Costa

We say Joăo Ninguém".

-- Courtesy of Mari

In Brazilian Portuguese we also use: “Fulano, Beltrano e Sicrano”, like the Spanish. For an unknown person you may say “Fulano de Tal”.

-- Courtesy of Luiz

Romanian: Necunoscut, or "persoana anonima"

-- Courtesy of Sandra Preoteasa

Russian: In Runet (that's how we call Russian Internet) the informal name for an anonymous person is Vasya Pupkin, pronounced in English like vARs'a pOOp-kinn (' indicating a soft consonant); if I transcribed the surname for a French-speaking one, I'd write "Poupkine". Vasya Pupkin is also a name for a 'lamer', a tech-ignorant but very pretentious young hacker. Also, a traditional way to list a group of anonymous people is "Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov" (three common surnames, pronounced like ee-vah-NOF, peet-RUF, sEEduh-ruf). This tradition precedes Internet by many years.

-- Courtesy of Kirill Manucharov and Alexey Zubtsov

Serbian: Jovan Petrovic. This one is in no way official, but my family used it in the same manner as John Smith.

-- Courtesy of Milos Dvorak (a fairly generic Czech name itself)

For Serbian language it's written "Jovan Petrovic", but one that is really used is "Petar Petrovic", or (less used) "Jovan Jovanovic". For a woman it could be "Ivana Ivanovic" but it's not so commonly used.

-- Courtesy of Darko

Slovenian: In Slovenia, an anonymous male is informally called Janez Novak, pronounced "YAH-nes No-WAK", translated "James of the New". Apparently, Novak was once a particularly widespread surname in Slovenia, and Janez certainly was a very common first name. This is by far the most widespread name for an anonymous person in Slovenia.

A variant on the surname would be Kovach ('ch' = the national character 'c with caron', Unicode U010D), pronounced "Ko-WAHCH", translated "Smith". Female variants on the first name would be Micka, pronounced "MITS-kah", and Marija, pronounced same as "Maria".

-- Courtesy of Denis Bider

Spanish: uses N.N. also. Informally, the names Fulano, Mengano, Zutano/Sultano, Perengano, and Perencejo are used. Fulano is always the first one, but when you need to name two or more, then the other names come, and, generally, in that order, with Perengano being the last one. Fulano's full name is Fulano de Tal, and is used when you want to state first and last name of anyone. These change to "-ana" for women. Other names are Juan Perez, Pablo Perez, Juan de los Palotes ("of the big sticks", who knows why).

-- Courtesy of John Cowan and Omar El Vikingo

In Puerto Rico we normally refer to an unknown person as "Juan del Pueblo". Literally translated, it means, "Juan of the town," or "the town's Juan." This is probably true in Spain also.

-- Courtesy of Hector L. Reyes

In Argentina as well as in most parts of Spain, we say "Fulano De Tal" which translates to "whomever" (usually used in a derogatory way, as in "any old Tom, Dick, or Harry" but literally means "so and so of what's-is."

-- Courtesy of Lisa Youtsey

Spanish: In the Philippines the common man is almost always referred to as Juan dela Cruz.

-- Courtesy of Sofia A. David

Swati / siSwati / Swazi (Swaziland): Sipho Nkosi. The 'h' in Sipho is silent, and the pronunciation is 'See-po'. The language is si-swati, closely related to Zulu, or si-zulu.

-- Courtesy of John Dinger

Swedish: "Medelsvensson", in the sense of representing the average person in the population.

The word "medel" is the swedish word for average, and "Svensson" is a common last name, meaning the son of Sven. The most common last name is Johansson (the son of Johan), and the most common male first name is Erik. Sweden does not have a "John Doe" name, but if you want to be anonymous, you use a name like "Erik Johansson", or any last name ending with "sson", since they are so common.

In Swedish the names Sven (m) and Svea (f) Svensson are often used to name a generic person ("Medelsvensson" is more "the average Swedish person").

Sven is an old Swedish name meaning young male. Svea is another word for Sweden (Svea rike - Country of Sweden) and has been used as a name since the first half of the 19th century.

-- Courtesy of Johan Santesson, Anders Hesselbom and Fredrik Wellner

Turkish: In the urban usage we don't have any John Doe as far as I know (maybe Ahmet-Mehmet, a common turkish name), but Turkish villagers use "Sarý Cizmeli Mehmet Aga" (Chief Mehmet the Yellow Booted) in a more humorous way. As in: "Sarý Cizmeli Mehmet Aga will pay the bill someday."

-- Courtesy of Baris Purut

Vietnamese: Nguoi La means stranger, or in other words someone unknown.

-- Courtesy of Katinine

Do you know the name for an anonymous person in another language? Email it to us at .


 

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