Britain’s new polar research ship is named RSS Sir David Attenborough, even though an online vote overwhelmingly chose the name Boaty McBoatface. Versions of this playful construction go back at least as far as a 1987 episode of the television show “Friends,” with a reference to Hicky McHicks from Hicksville. Since the 1940’s, the Mc- element has been affixed to words to indicate something “typical of its kind.” Similar examples today, like Cutie McPretty and Helpy Helperton, have a teasing tone to them. This is part of a complete episode.

  1. Zuccherino says:

    Yes, I see that it goes back to the 1940s, but in terms of prominence, Ronald McDonald, dating from the early 1960s, is certainly a landmark usage. It should also be pointed that the boat in question does look like it has a human face.

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