Definition of MacGuffin
: an object, event, or character in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion despite usually lacking intrinsic importance
Did You Know?
The first person to use MacGuffin as a word for a plot device was Alfred Hitchcock. He borrowed it from an old shaggy-dog story in which some passengers on a train interrogate a fellow passenger carrying a large, strange-looking package. The fellow says the package contains a MacGuffin, which, he explains, is used to catch tigers in the Scottish Highlands. When the group protests that there are no tigers in the Highlands, the passenger replies, "Well, then, this must not be a MacGuffin." Hitchcock apparently appreciated the way the mysterious package holds the audience’s attention and builds suspense. He recognized that an audience anticipating a solution to a mystery will continue to follow the story even if the initial interest-grabber turns out to be irrelevant.
Variants of macguffin
Origin and Etymology of macguffin
coined by Alfred Hitchcock
First Known Use: circa 1939
Learn More about macguffin
Britannica English: Translation of MacGuffin for Arabic speakers
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