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
MacGuffin was our Word of the Day on 06/16/2016. Hear the podcast!
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
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up MacGuffin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).