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Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 17, 2005

In Reply to: Johnny-come-lately posted by Smokey Stover on June 17, 2005

: : : What is the meaning of "Johnny-come-lately"? thanks

: : A new-comer. A new kid on the block. I think, in addition, that it is slightly pejorative, with the hint of a new arrival to something who tries to 'muscle in' on the established order.

: : DFG

: Well put, David, but I think "muscle in" is a little strong. Perhaps "get into the act" would be preferable, but only as a sometime alternative to simply being a newcomer. The OED cites numerous examples, beginning in 1839, when it seems already established. The first two citations in the OED refer to the maritime trade, although that's probably without any particular significance. SS

I think that the phrase doesn't necessarily imply that this newcomer is trying to muscle in, but rather carries a warning that it would be most unseemly of him/her to do so.

In the British Army a new recruit was known as "Johnny Raw" from the beginning of the 19th century at least till Kipling's time; and in the Napoleonic wars, experienced officers in the Peninsular campaign referred to newly-arrived young officers as "Johnny Newcome".

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