Posted by: episystechpubs | September 10, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Your Name Here

I have class today, so I’m going to cheat a little and let this Grammarist article do all of the work. Here’s an interesting explanation of two alternate terms for “signature.”

John Hancock and John Henry

When someone asks for your John Hancock, it means they want your signature.

John Hancock was the first man to sign the United States’ Declaration of Independence in 1776. Knowing that signing this declaration could mean his imprisonment or even death, John Hancock boldly wrote his name in large letters, declaring, “There, I think King George should be able to read this.”

When someone asks for your John Henry, it means they want your signature.

The use of John Henry to refer to a signature became popular in the western United States, fifty years after John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. Signing your John Henry is cowboy slang. While there is an American Tall Tale about John Henry, the steel-driving man who outperformed a steam-driven machine, this character does not seem to be related to the phrase sign your John Henry, as the story dates to a time after cowboys began referring to signing your John Henry. Of the two phrases, John Hancock is the most used term, today.

[KC – And when people ask for your
Jack Henry, it means they want your job…or maybe they just want you to recite the company philosophy: "Do the right thing, do whatever it takes, and have fun."]

Signature area of the U.S. Constitution.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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