John Henry

pl. John Henries for 1.
1. Informal. a person's signature.
2. U.S. Folklore. a legendary black man of exceptional strength and stamina.
[1910-15, Amer.; from the proper name]

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▪ folk hero
      hero of a widely sung U.S. black folk ballad. It describes his contest with a steam drill, in which John Henry crushed more rock than did the machine but died “with his hammer in his hand.” Writers and artists see in John Henry a symbol of man's foredoomed struggle against the machine and of the black man's tragic battle with the white man.

      Some factual basis exists for the ballad of John Henry. When the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad drove the Big Bend Tunnel through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, from 1870 to 1873, steel drivers hammered steel drills into the rock to make holes into which to pack explosives. The modern steam drill was introduced into the South in 1870; hence, it is possible that the comparative efficiency of the two methods could have been tested at Big Bend.

      Although Southern blacks sang about John Henry, they told few stories of him, and, like Paul Bunyan, he is not truly a folk hero. The imaginative treatment by Roark Bradford in John Henry (1931) made the name known to many Americans.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John Henry — may refer to: *John Henry (folklore), the steel driving man , is an American folk heroReal people* John Joseph Henry (1758–1811), American Revolutionary War soldier * John Henry (Maryland), an 18th century U.S. Senator from and Governor of… …   Wikipedia

  • John Henry — ist der Name von: John F. Henry (* 1943), Wirtschaftswissenschaftler John W. Henry (* 1949), US amerikanischer Unternehmer John Henry (Politiker) (1750–1798), US amerikanischer Politiker John Henry (Historiker) (* 1950), britischer Historiker… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John\ Henry — • John Hancock • John Henry noun informal Your signature; your name in writing. The man said, Put your John Hancock on this paper. Joe felt proud when he put his John Henry on his very first driver s license …   Словарь американских идиом

  • John Henry — • John Henry • John Hancock signature Please sign your John Henry here and we will process your order right away …   Idioms and examples

  • John Henry — ☆ John Henry1 n. Informal one s signature John Henry2 n. American Folklore the hero, usually depicted as black, of an American ballad, who died after a contest pitting his strength with a sledge hammer against that of a steam drill …   English World dictionary

  • John Henry — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Folklore John Henry, héros du folklore américain ; Patronyme John Henry, historien des sciences britannique ; Peinture John Henry, peintre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Henry — noun Etymology: from the name John Henry, from confusion with John Hancock Date: circa 1914 an autograph signature …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • John Henry — signature, signed name    To give you a refund, we need your John Henry on this form …   English idioms

  • John Henry — John′ Hen′ry n. pl. John Henries inf a person s signature …   From formal English to slang

  • John Henry — /dʒɒn ˈhɛnri/ (say jon henree) noun US Colloquial → John Hancock. Also, henry. {from confusion with John Hancock} …   Australian English dictionary

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