Learn English | A new lesson every week
Book your course now

Why do we say 'The Real McCoy'?

Average: 3.1 (12 votes)


'This fighter is great. He's the real McCoy, no doubt about it.'

Meaning: the real thing – not a substitute/ fake. Another 'name' based expression, although in this case, nobody seems absolutely sure as to where it originated from.

There are, however, a multitude of stories surrounding the phrase. My favourite version is the following...

Kid McCoy (real name Norman Selby, 1873 – 1940) was an American boxing champion who was once challenged by a drunk to prove that he was McCoy and not one of the lesser boxers trading under the same name. Happy to oblige, Selby knocked the drunk to the floor. The drunk, apparently, lifted his head and admitted that 'Yes, that's the real McCoy'.

''That Rolex looks fake. I don't think it's the real McCoy.'

Have you ever bought something that wasn't the real McCoy? Tell us about it. Now add your comments!