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Alternative forms[edit]


Used by Alfred Hitchcock, as an arbitrary Scottish surname. The actual name comes from Ulster: Mc- (son of) +‎ Irish dubh (black) +‎ Irish Fionn (literally fairheaded).[1] See also Wikipedia's MacGuffin § History and use.



MacGuffin (plural MacGuffins)

  1. (narratology) A plot element or other device used to catch the audience's attention and maintain suspense, but whose exact nature has fairly little influence over the storyline.
    • 2000, Steven Spielberg; Lester D. Friedman; Brent Notbohm, Steven Spielberg: Interviews:
      " [] But we wound up realizing you really can't top yourself. You just tell a different story and hope the new MacGuffin is as compelling as the last MacGuffin."
    • 2005, Thomas M. Disch, On SF:
      A paleontologist lately returned from an expedition to Wyoming, where he unearthed the bones of the first brontosaurus (and supplied guns to the Indians on behalf of the Foreign Office, which had succeeded in its policy of balkanizing the North American continent) Mallory comes into possession of the MacGuffin during a Derby Day encounter with Byron's daughter (and Babbage's protégée) Ada. Thereafter he is hounded by a whole rogue's gallery of villains bent on reclaiming the MacGuffin.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mag DHUIBHFINN”, in Irish Names and Surnames, (please provide a date or year)

Further reading[edit]