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Johnny-on-the-spot is an American term that first appeared at the end of the nineteenth century. It is an idiom, which is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the term Johnny-on-the-spot, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Johnny-on-the-spot describes a person who is close at hand and readily available at all times. Interestingly, the term Johnny-on-the-spot can be traced to a newspaper article published by the New York Sun in 1896, extolling the phrase as a new idiom. This article maintains that the term Johnny-on-the-spot is derived from the phrase “Johnny is always on the spot when wanted.” In this case, Johnny is a generic term for a person. Note that the Oxford English Dictionary prefers the hyphenated form, Johnny-on-the-spot, while other dictionaries render the phrase without hyphens as in Johnny on the spot. Further note that in all cases the noun Johnny is capitalized as it is a proper name.


If he or she has been totally Johnny-on-the-spot in the correspondence and follow-up and then suddenly becomes tough to reach or turtle-slow with responses, this may well be a sign. (The Business Insider)

He credited the fire department and school resource officers working next door at the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools office for being “Johnny on the spot.” (The Springfield News-Leader)

“There’s just 22 of us who saw it, it’s amazing,” Mr Jensen said. “[I feel] privileged for a start, we were Johnny on the spot, we’re here at the right time, right moment.” (The New Zealand Herald)

“They were really ‘Johnny on the spot’ and had great investigative techniques down there and were able to really do a good search that led to a rescue and recovery,” BPD’s Williams said. (The Idaho Statesman)

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