MooT Question Icon
The phrase derives from the name of a character in John Arbuthnot's satire The Law Is a Bottomless Pit; what national personification is it?




Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.


A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:




Back to home page



Answer: John Bull

John Bull is England's equivalent of Uncle Sam, a personification of the country and the people.

According to www.wordorigins.org: "The term John Bull dates to 1712 and first appears as a character in John Arbuthnot's satire The Law Is a Bottomless Pit. The familiar appearance dates to the nineteenth century and the cartoons by John Tenniel (perhaps most famous for his illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland)."

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.