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A "Dear John letter" is a letter written to a husband or boyfriend to inform him their relationship is over, usually because the author has found another lover. Dear John Letters are often written out of an inability or unwillingness to inform the man in person. The reverse situation, in which someone writes to his wife or girlfriend to break off the relationship, is referred to as a "Dear Jane letter".
（While the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, it is commonly believed to have been coined by Americans during World War II. Large numbers of American troops were stationed overseas for many months or years, and as time passed many of their wives or girlfriends decided to begin a relationship with a new man rather than wait for their old one to return.）
As letters to servicemen from wives or girlfriends back home would typically contain affectionate language (such as "Dear Johnny", "My dearest John", or simply "Darling"), a serviceman receiving a note beginning with a curt "Dear John" would instantly be aware of the letter's purpose.
A writer in the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, NY, summed it up in August 1945:1945年八月，一位作家總結道："Dear John," the letter began. "I have found someone else whom I think the world of. I think the only way out is for us to get a divorce," it said. They usually began like that, those letters that told of infidelity on the part of the wives of servicemen... The men called them "Dear Johns".“
There are a number of theories on why the name John is used rather than any other. John was a common name in America at the time the term was coined. John is also the name used in many other terms that refer to an anonymous man or men, such as "John Doe" or "John Smith".
為什麼偏偏是約翰而不是邁克或者理查德呢？因為約翰在美國實在是一個超級大眾的名字，尤其在這個詞組誕生的時候格外普遍。另外呢，約翰這個名字也往往被用來指示無名人士，比方很常見的John Doe或者John Smith。
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