Johnny shirt

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Dec 7 19:57:18 UTC 2004

On Tue, 7 Dec 2004 11:58:29 -0500, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

>>My sister, who is a medical transcriptionist, forwarded to me this article
>>from The Medical Post, a Canadian doctors' journal:
>>September 17, 2002 Volume 38 Issue 33
>>Johnny, what's the origin of your shirt?
>>Your help is needed to unravel an East Coast saying
>>By Stewart Cameron
>>    This column usually provides information on medical words, but this
>> month is different. I'm looking for your stories about a curious
medical term.
>>    Do you know what a "Johnny shirt" is?
>I think it's more usually just a "johnny". This term is conventional AFAIK.
>It appears in MW3 and RHUD.

Also MWCD11 and AHD4.

>I don't believe it's regionally restricted.
>Maybe it's a little old-fashioned now, replaced by just "gown" maybe.
>Sometimes I've encountered "johnny-shirt" or "johnny-gown" or whatever, and
>quite often "hospital johnny". I don't know what the original form was.

Another name is "johnny coat":

   This week we asked for a word for the hospital gown, that horrific
   backless number designed for doctor access and patient humiliation.
   Some of you called it 'the great equalizer', perhaps because everyone
   looks equally unattractive in it. Maybe because it makes everyone who
   puts one on feel equally sick and helpless.

   Some people already call it the 'johnny coat', and that, according to
   several wordsmithing nurses, is because going to the john is made a
   lot easier by these flimsy flashgowns.

--Ben Zimmer

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