Real McCoy

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 14 06:35:00 UTC 2001

At 6:59 PM +0100 9/14/01, Jonathon Green wrote:
>There is a longish (eight-page) essay on this term by Partridge in _From
>Sanskrit to Brazil_  (1952), reprinted in _Eric Partridge in His Own Words_
>(1980). A quick glance sugegsts that he seems to cover most of the theories
>(boxer, bootlegger, Scotch whisky, etc.) , and differentiates between UK
>Mackay and US McCoy. If anyone is sufficiently interested, I'd be happy to
>scan it in and post it.
That's the one cited in Brewer, and also (equally approvingly) in
Funk's _Heavens to Betsy!_; Partridge was apparently sufficiently
persuasive therein that he won over Mitford Mathews, who had
previously published (in _A Dictionary of Americanisms_, 1946) an
entertaining story according to which the origin involved non-cut
heroin brought in from the island of Macao, which set the standard
for "dope addicts" who came to particularly value "the real Macao".
(Good ol' Ben Trovato strikes again.)  There's probably a version
somewhere that features bird-fanciers in search of the real macaw.


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