real McCoy

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search


Wikipedia has an article on:

Alternative forms[edit]


Corruption of Scots the real MacKay, this latter attested in 1856 as “A drappie o’ the real MacKay” (A drop of the real MacKay).[1][2][3]

How “MacKay” became “McCoy” is unclear; first attested in the form “McCoy” in the US in 1908:

I took a good-size snort out of that big bottle [of furniture polish] in the middle....Have you none of the clear McCoy handy around the house?[4]

The term is the subject of many folk etymologies, discussed at the Wikipedia entry.


the real McCoy

  1. (idiomatic) The genuine thing, neither a substitute nor an imitation.



  1. ^ Scottish National Dictionary
  2. ^ 2007 OED
  3. ^ Susie Dent of the Oxford University Press, on February 8, 2008 broadcast of Countdown.
  4. ^ The Mavens’ Word of the Day: real McCoy cites Dictionary of Americanisms, which gives the citation for this quote as Davenport, Butte Beneath X-Ray.