Common Name Phrases and Name Words

From “Cats and Dogs

Many common names have become rooted in the clichès of our language, even if they never get used to label anybody ever again.  Of course, some common names are just homonyms of common words and not related in etymology; these are shown in italics.  Jack does not appear here because this name hits the jackpot with over 80 related terms, everything from jack-in-the-box to jack-in-the-pulpit, from Jack Frost to Union Jack, from blackjack to yellow jack.  (See Jack O’ Words.)  Neither do we show many common words that are not particularly popular name, such as Candy, Crystal, Dean or Robin.  Names that are regular English words are italicized.


  Adam's apple — part of a man's throat

  Sweet Fanny Adams — British naval slang meaning "nothing at all"

  Handy Andy — a comic strip character

  Raggedy Ann — a type of doll; a comic character

  Art — cultural expression such as painting

  Barb — an offensive remark; a pointed metal piece

  Betty Boop — an old time comic character

  Big Ben — the clock in London

  Big Bertha — a big German artillery piece

  Bill — birds beak; a financial instrument

  Bill-bug — a kind of weevil

  Bill of fare —a menu

  Bill of goods —a fraudulent item sold to someone

  Bill of Rights —a formal statement of rights

  Bill of fare —a menu

  Billboard — advertising structure

  Billy club — club carry by police

  Billy goat — a kind of animal

  Billy cock — a derby or kind of hat

  Bob — to bounce up and down

  Bob sled — snow vehicle

  Bobby — an English policeman

  Bobby socks — a type of sock fashionable in the 1940s and 1950s

  Bouncing Betty — a dam busting bomb during World War II

  Bud — an immature flower; name for an unknown person

  Carol — a yuletide song

  Charlie horse — a bruise

  Good time Charlie — a happy-go-lucky person

  Ground chuck — beef ground up

  Fancy Dan — a comic character; a fancy dresser

  Dennis the Menace — a comic character; a brat

  Dick — a detective; a penis; a jerk

  Don — organized crime boss; a Spanish title for a gentleman

  Donald Duck — a popular comic character

  Prima Donna — a ballerina; a vain, egotistical, obnoxious person

  Earl — a title of nobility

  Steady Eddy — a reliable person

  Fannie Mae — a private agency chartered to promote home ownership

  Fanny — buttocks

  Felix the cat — a comic character

  Frank — sincere and honest

  Freddie Mac — a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress

  Gene — a unit of inheritance

  By George — an expression of surprise

  Gorgeous George — a comic character; a well-groomed man

  Grace — a prayer said before or after a meal

  Guy — a grown man

  Old Harry — the devil

  Harvey Wallbanger — an alcoholic drink

  Henry — a basic unit of electric inductance

  Plain Jane — a girl that is plain, ordinary, not especially memorable

  Mary Jane — Slang for marijuana; low-heeled woman's shoes

  Spinning jenny — an early spinning machine with several spindles

  Jerry-built — not built well

  Jim Crow — term for the segregation

  Jim Dandy — very pleasing

  Jimmy — a crow bar; to pry open

  Joshua tree — plant species belonging to the genus Yucca

  Cowboy Joe — a nickname for a singing cowboy

  Cup of Joe — coffee

  Sloppy Joe — flavored ground beef on a bun

  GI Joe — an average American soldier

  Joe Blow — slang expression used to refer to just an average guy

  Joe Soap — British rhyming slang denoting a foolish stooge

  John — a lavatory; a pimp

  John Bull — a figure who stands for English literary and political culture

  John Doe — a person whose actual name is unknown

  John Dory — any of various bony fishes

  John Hancock — an elaborate signature

  John Henry — an American folk hero

  John Q. Public — any citizen or group of citizens

  Johnny cake — a kind of thin, flat, corn bread baked on a griddle

  Johnny-come-lately — a person who arrives late

  Johnny-jump-up — any of certain violets

  Johnny-on-the-spot — a person who is ready and at hand

  Johnny Reb — a Confederate soldier

  Long johns — underwear with full arms and legs

  Ken — understanding; to perceive

  Mac — any fellow; a generic nickname

  Black Maria — a British a patrol wagon

  Mark — noticeable imprint or nick on an object

  Martin — a bird type

  Bloody mary — an alcoholic drink made with tomato juice

  Virgin mary — a non-alcoholic version of a bloddy mary

  Mickey Finn — an alcoholic drink with a narcotic added secretly

  Mickey Mouse — a comic character; something trivial

  Mike — a device for amplifying sound

  Screaming Mimi — nickname for a German World War II rocket

  Mollycoddle — to pamper

  Nervous Nellie — an easily agitated person

  Saint Nick — Santa Claus

  Pat — a light touch

  Patty-cake — a game played by clapping the hands

  Peg leg — an artificial leg

  (for) Pete's sake — expression of exasperation

  Peter's pence — a medieval annual tax paid to the papal see

  Ray — a beam of light

  Rob — to steal from

  Rob Roy — an alcoholic drink

  Richard Roe — a person whose actual name is unknown

  Jolly Roger — a pirate flag

  Sally — any sudden start into activity

  Uncle Sam — characture representing the United States

  Simple Simon — a foolish character in a nursery rhyme

  Lazy Susan — a rotating service platenursery rhyme

  Sue — to take to court

  Suzie Q — song; a dance; a movie; et. al.

  Ted — to spread or scatter, as seed

  Teddy bear — a childs stuff animal

  Doubting Thomas — one who is habitually doubtful

  Peeping Tom — a person who gets pleasure from watching others furtively

  Tom — a male turkey

  Tomboy — a girl who acts like a boy

  Tom Collins — type of cocktail made from gin

  Tom foolery — foolish behavior

  Tom tom — a primitive drum

  Uncle Tom — insult to a black man who eagerly tries to please white men

  Tommy Atkins — a term for a common soldier in the British Army

  Tommy gun — an automatic rapid firing weapon

  Will — written intentions after death; mental power

  Will power —control of ones impulses

  Willy nilly — in a disordered way