Where the Term “The Real McCoy” Came From

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The term “The Real McCoy” originated in the prohibition era.  Captain William S. McCoy was a rum runner who coordinated most rum transported by ship during prohibition.  He was known for never watering down his imports; thus, his product was “The Real McCoy”.

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4 comments

  • No, it didn’t. The term well predates prohibition, with the first citing in 1881.

    Some people associate the term with Elijah McCoy’s oil drip cup, but there’s no proof of that either.

  • Incidentally, this is the second time that I’ve seen you give an “I found out the origin of a word or term!” that’s easily disproven, the other time being the word “loo”. Before you post these, you really should get into the habit of checking a dictionary for the earliest citation. I like the OED (because I have free access as a member of the NY public library), but if you can’t access that http://www.etymonline.com is a good one. What they say about the phrase “the real McCoy”, btw, is that it became popularized during Prohibition.

  • Edit: Sorry, just checked the OED, the first citation they have is from 1856 (I thought the 1880s was a bit late, because although it’s associated with Elijah McCoy it really does predate his invention!) I’m going to go fix Wikipedia now.

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