every tom, dick, and harry

Tom, Dick and Harry

This is about the phrase; for specific usages, see Tom, Dick and Harry (disambiguation).
The phrase "Tom, Dick and Harry" is a placeholder for multiple unspecified people; "Tom, Dick or Harry" plays the same role for one unspecified person. The phrase most commonly occurs as "every Tom, Dick and Harry", meaning everyone, and "any Tom, Dick or Harry", meaning anyone. The masculine names in these phrase do not in themselves imply exclusion of females, but use of either version when the context implies necessarily being female − for example, "Your mother could be any Tom Dick or Harry" − would normally be seen as careless or ironic.

Similar phrases in other languages

  • Fulano, Zultano y Mengano — in Spanish
  • Hinz und Kunz — in German
  • Jan en Alleman — in Dutch
  • Tizio, Caio, Sempronio, Mevio, Filano e Calpurnio — in Italian
  • Gud og hver mann — in Norwegian
  • Fulano, Beltrano e Sicrano — in Portuguese
  • Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov — in Russian
  • Are, Oore, Shamsi Kooreh — in Persian
  • Andersson, Pettersson och Lundström - in Swedish

In medicine

English-speaking medical students use the phrase in memorizing the order of an artery, and a nerve, and the three tendons of the flexor retinaculum in the lower leg: the T,D,a,n, and H of Tom, Dick and Harry correspond to tibialis posterior, flexor digitorum longus, posterior tibial artery, tibial nerve, and flexor hallucis longus).

In popular culture

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry were the names given to three Galapagos Island tortoises brought back to England aboard the HMS Beagle by Charles Darwin, as documented in his book, The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • Tom, Dick and Harry (1941 film)
  • In The Great Escape, the three tunnels were named Tom, Dick, and Harry.
  • Tom, Dick and Sally — British comic strip.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun — the three alien characters posing as male humans took "Tom", "Dick" and "Harry" as given names (and the one posing as female took "Sally", coinciding with the comic strip).
  • Tom, Dick, and Harry — 2006 Bollywood film.
  • Tom, Dick, and Harry are the names of three mountain peaks in the Cascade Range in Oregon, U.S.A.
  • In the musical Kiss Me, Kate there is a song "Tom, Dick or Harry".
  • A television advertisement for Fernwood Fitness, a woman's only fitness club in Australia, had the by-line "No Toms, no Harrys and definitely no Dicks

Notes and references

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