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Little John


A big stalwart fellow, named John Little (or John Nailor), who encountered Robin Hood, and gave him a sound thrashing, after which he was rechristened, and Robin stood godfather. Little John is introduced by Sir Walter Scott in The Talisman.

“‘This infant was called John Little,ʹ quoth he;

‘Which name shall be changed anon.

The words weʹll transpose, so wherever he goes,

His name shall be called Little John.”

Ritson: Robin Hood, xxi.

Little John was executed on Arbor Hill, Dublin.

It will be remembered that Maria in Twelfth Night, represented by Shakespeare as a little woman, is by a similar pleasantry called by Viola, “Olivia’s giant;” and Sir Toby says to her, “Good night, Penthesileʹa”—i.e. Amazon.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Little Britain
Little Corporal (The)
Little Dauphin (The)
Little Ease
Little Englanders
Little Jack Horner
Little John
Little Masters
Little Nell
Little Ones (The)
Little Paris
Little Pedlington
Little Red Ridinghood
Little Gentleman in Velvet (The)
Little Packs become a Little Pediar