The Names of the Nameless: Move Over, John Doe and John Q. Public
What do you call a nobody -- or an anybody? In American English, we have plenty of answers. You'll hear nameless males referred to as:
John Q. Public
All are anonymous, yet none are synonymous. There are many ways to be nameless.
John Doe is most often a specific individual whose identity is either unknown (as in the case of a body found at an accident scene) or concealed (as in the case of confidential legal proceedings). Relatives: Jane Doe, Richard Roe.
John Smith is a flexible generic individual, often encountered in hypothetical situations or as a placeholder to indicate where a name should go. Relatives: Jane Smith.
John Q. Public is a representative member of American society. As the the typical man on the street, he is a probabilistic mix of social strata and frequently encountered in policy discussions. Relatives: Jane Q. Public, John Q. Taxpayer.
Joe Schmo is the put-upon American everyman; the hard-working, hard-luck side of John Q. Public. Relatives: Joe Blow, Joe Sixpack, Average Joe, Every Tom, Dick and Harry. Notably, he has no direct female counterpart.
Little Johnny is a representative American child, presumed to be part of a representative American nuclear family. Relatives: Little Timmy, Little Susie, and the rest of the Mid-Century Normative Child gang.
Then there are more specialized anybodies. "The Joneses" are hypothetical friends and neighbors who set community standards. "Alan Smithee" was, for decades, the anonymous director of any film disowned by its creator. You can even make a case for Spartacus as a name of anonymity via solidarity (or at the very least, a good Starbucks prank).
Even these placeholder names only hint at the possibilities. It seems to me we could use a generic name for telemarketers. Or maybe more than one; "Cassie Cause" is a different sort from "Mickey Mortgage."
What's more, the translation of John to Jane doesn't seem a satisfactory representation of generic women. Couldn't we put some more femininity in our anonymity? And as American names become more diverse, all these Johns and Joes become more retro than everyman. Surely it's time for a generic name for the non-generically-named generation.
What kinds of nameless individuals do you think we need, and what would you un-name them?