"John Doe" is a way to speak about an anonymous person. Sometimes it refers to the average guy on the street, sometimes to an unidentified body that’s been found. In French, there are different ways to say "John Doe" depending on the circumstance. Check them out below…
Monsieur/Madame Tout-le-monde (literally, Mr./Mrs. Everybody) is the equivalent of "the man/woman on the street" in English.
"Monsieur X" (Mr. X) is used to keep a person anonymous like "John Doe". It can also refer to a wanted person.
"X" refers to an unidentified body and can also refer to an unidentified criminal.
"Monsieur Untel/Madame Unetelle" (Mr./Mrs. So-and-So) is said in casual conversation about someone whose name we don’t know. "Monsieur/Mme Tartempion" is another version of "Untel/Unetelle". The name originates as a character in a play by Feydeau in the 1840’s. It’s an actual family name but the play made it famous and funny.
"Le citoyen Lambda" is used to speak about the average guy. It’s like "John Smith" or "the average Joe".
A French word that’s a little more pejorative for the average guy is "Duchmol" or "Monsieur Duchmol". This would be similar to "Joe Schmoe" in the US.
"Trucmuche", "Truc-machin", "Machin-chose" are used when we can’t remember the name of the person. It’s the equivalent to Mr. What’s-his-name. "Truc", "machin’, "chose" are the equivalent to thingamajig.
Feel free to share terms for "John Doe" in your language in the comments below.
Thanks to Monique Palomares for helping me with this post. Monique works with me on the French and Spanish versions of Mama Lisa’s World.
This article was posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2016 at 4:34 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, France, French, Generic Names for Men and Women, John Doe, Languages, Thingamajig, Words & Phrases. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
4 Responses to “"John Doe" in French”
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May 13th, 2016 at 8:44 pm
Aleksandra Grbić Hrustić wrote, “Pera Petrović – in Serbian.”
April 5th, 2019 at 3:37 am
Au Québec, on dirait aussi Jos Blos…
May 27th, 2019 at 9:53 pm
“Pinco Pallino” in Italian
January 31st, 2020 at 2:50 am
“Fulano” or “Fulano de tal” are very used in Brazil… you can also say “beltrano”, as a second option, and even a third one, which is “ciclano”