Antedating of "Real McCoy"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 22 21:41:56 UTC 2006

Just to state the obvious, my finding this 1891 citation for _real McCoy_
is the last nail in the coffin of the "Kid McCoy" theory of its etymology,
as well as disproving most of the other popular theories.  It appears very
likely that _real McCoy_ is a variant on _real Mackay_, attested from
1856, and the real etymological question is where _real Mackay_ came from.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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