Why do we say "The real McCoy.

Well-Known Expressions

The real McCoy

Meaning:

It's the real thing - not an imitation

Background:

There are many theories as to the origin of the expression, 'The Real McCoy'.

One contender is that it refers to the Canadian inventor Elijah McCoy, born in or around 1844, who invented many things including an automatic lubricator for steam engines. Other automatic lubricators followed but were considered inferior thus engineers were said to ask for "the real McCoy".

Another is that it originates in Edinburgh, Scotland where, by 1870, the "the Real Mackay" was the established advertising slogan of the G. Mackay and Co. whisky distillery company whose whiskey was exported to both the USA and Canada. The Oxford English Dictionary records a letter written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 referring to somebody as 'the real Mackay'.

Another is that it originates with legendary boxer Kid McCoy (1873-1940) who was so popular that many fighters assumed the same name. To reassure their readers that they were reporting on the genuine article, an 1899 edition of the San Francisco Examiner stated that the "real McCoy" had won his latest match.

Yet another theory comes from a member of the McCoy family of Long Island, NY, who says that his great grandfather ran a funeral parlor in Lower Manhattan during the prohibition era. Few corpses passed through the door because the establishment was primarily a front for a whiskey distillery which supplied the local speakeasies, who would ask for Real McCoy Whiskey.

While it appears that the oldest known variation of this expression originates in Scotland, it also seems quite conceivable that it was moderated into its modern-day usage by one or more of the other 'originators' - perhaps as a pun on the original.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Force
    The Force
    by Don Winslow
    Intense! That's the word. Winslow's The Force rips through its four hundred pages with the...
  • Book Jacket: Shadow Man
    Shadow Man
    by Alan Drew
    Alan Drew's debut novel, Gardens of Water, was an ambitious work of literary fiction set amid ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.