as in the real McCoy, "the real thing; the genuine article," by 1881, said to be from Scottish the real Mackay (1883), which is of uncertain origin, though there are many candidates, the most likely of which is that it refers to whiskey distilled by A. and M. Mackay of Glasgow (the phrase the real McCoy became popular during Prohibition to describe liquor). Other stories credit it to Charles S. "Kid" McCoy (1872-1940), former welterweight boxing champ; and to a claimant for chief of the northern branch of the clan Mackay.
"By jingo! yes; so it will be. It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there." [James S. Bond, "The Rise and Fall of the Union Club," Yorkville, Canada, 1881]
updated on December 09, 2018
Dictionary entries near McCoy