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the real McCoy
Something that is genuine, authentic, or exactly what it is claimed to be; the real thing. The origin of this phrase is not definitively known. A: "The traveling salesman said this diamond was the real McCoy!" B: "And you believed him?" Boy, that superstar lawyer they brought in is the real McCoy. She's the one who took down Big Oil in court!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
an authentic thing or person. Of course it's authentic. It's the real McCoy.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
real McCoy, the
The genuine article. This term probably originated in late nineteenth-century America, when a young boxer named Norman Selby changed his name to Kid McCoy and began a spectacularly successful career in the ring. For years he averaged a fight a month, winning most of them by knockouts. Hoping to capitalize on his success, numerous other boxers adopted the name Kid McCoy, but on March 24, 1899, the real Kid, in a now legendary bout, finished off Joe Choynski in the twentieth round. The next day’s headlines in the San Francisco Examiner proclaimed, “Now you’ve seen the real McCoy,” and that description stuck. In real life McCoy was actually a con artist and criminal. But in 1904 the New York Evening World said, “Notwithstanding the hullabaloo of his life and the mischief of his legend, McCoy with his wondrous speed and guile may be the first, greatest gentleman of this fresh age” (quoted in a review of a novel based on McCoy’s life, New York Times, June 6, 2002). Although this etymology is more or less verifiable, there are several other theories as to the term’s origin. Chief among them is that a Scotch whiskey made by the MacKay company was called the real Mackay or McCoy.
See also: real
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer