the genuine thing or person as promised, stated, or implied (usually preceded by the or the real): Those other paintings are copies, but this one is the McCoy.

Origin of McCoy

1880–85; also Mackay, McKie, the clear McCoy (of liquor); of uncertain origin; hypothesized identifications with Mackay, a Scottish clan, and Kid McCoy, nickname of U.S. boxer Norman Selby (1873–1940), are unsubstantiated Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for the real mccoy




slang the genuine person or thing (esp in the phrase the real McCoy)

Word Origin for McCoy

C20: perhaps after Kid McCoy, professional name of Norman Selby (1873–1940), American boxer, who was called ``the real McCoy'' to distinguish him from another boxer of that name




Tony, full name Anthony Peter McCoy. born 1974, Northern Irish national hunt jockey: champion jockey every season since 1995/96
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for the real mccoy


as in the real McCoy, 1881, said to be from Scottish the real Mackay (1883), of uncertain origin, though there are many candidates, including whiskey distilled by A. and M. Mackay of Glasgow (the phrase the real McCoy became popular during Prohibition to describe liquor); Charles S. "Kid" McCoy (1872-1940), former welterweight boxing champ; and 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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

the real mccoy in Culture

the real McCoy

The best of its kind, the real thing: “That homemade pizza was the real McCoy.” The source of this expression is the story of a famous prizefighter named McCoy. He had so many imitators that no one was sure which was the real one.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.