Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you ever hear the term “Joe Schmoe” or “Plain Jane”?

Do you know what these phrases mean?

It’s not only important to know what they mean and how to use them but also to catch them in references like brand names, restaurants, TV show names and characters. If you can do this you’ll feel more comfortable in American culture.

Here is our listener’s question:

Hello, Lindsay (and Michelle), how are you?

My name is Eduardo, from Brazil.

First, I would like to say thank you for your awesome podcast!

Well, I used to hesitate in asking you questions, cause I always thought that would make you even busier. But since I heard you saying that it saves you time, I felt at ease.

So, here is my specific question: In some tv series I heard people calling an unidentified person “Jane doe”. In a nutshell, this girl lost her memory and did not know her own name, so during an investigation the FBI kept calling her “Jane Doe”. I watched this situation in several TV series. So, why do they always use the same name?

Sorry if the question is too long (I tried to be as succinct as possible).

Thank you very much for your great job, I really appreciate it!

Bye, bye




Jane Doe:

An anonymous female party, typically the plaintiff, in a legal action.

Plaintiff- person who brings a case against someone else

  • Informal- a hypothetical average woman.

John Doe: The male version of Jane Doe

Joe Shmoe: This is the term we use for the average American person. It means no one in particular.

Plain Jane: A woman who is plain in appearance, average appearance,

The Joneses: “Keeping up with the Joneses”, competing with your neighbors (for material possessions, wealth accumulation, etc.)


Please listen to the episode for more information!

Do you have any questions?

Let us know in the comments below.

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