McDonald's McFights McLanguage in McDictionary

Language is power, and Ronald McDonald is getting into a pissing match with the guardians of the English language.

McDonald’s Corp. on Tuesday restarted its push to get the word “McJob” removed from dictionaries — and has set its sights on the gold standard of lexicons, the Oxford English Dictionary.

Glad to see the legal department at Mickey D’s HQ is working overtime. They might also want to target the OED’s definition of the prefix “Mc,” which applies “chiefly to nouns to form nouns with the sense ‘something that is of mass appeal, a standardized or bland variety.'”

As I type this, I’m wondering if the corporate goons have already found success: McDonald’s will be happy to know that Firefox’s spell-checker doesn’t recognize the word “McJob.” Then again, it doesn’t recognize “Hamburglar,” either. So let’s call it a draw. MARK ASHLEY

McDonald’s Targets the English McLanguage [Spiegel Online International]
(Photo: iboy_daniel)


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  1. winnabago says:

    Um, doesn’t the dictionary record what words are being used in a language? It’s not like they made this up.

  2. acambras says:

    Can you please get me a kleenex? (vs. tissue)

    I’m going down the hall to xerox something. (on a copier that’s not necessarily a Xerox).

    I googled him (on Yahoo).

    Somebody stole my iPod (or other mp3 player not necessarily made by Apple).

    See, McDonald’s? There are lots of brand names and trademarks that work their way into day-to-day language.

    McD’s is just pissed because the connotations of words like “McJob” or “McMansion” are negative.

  3. acambras says:

    Maybe the guys at McD’s should google the word “santorum” (as in Rick Santorum but there’s also another not-so-nice meaning) — then they’ll think that “McJob” is not so bad.

  4. McFuck ’em.

  5. superlayne says:

    What IS the defintion?

    This reminds me of an article I read on Google trying to keep from becoming a verb.

  6. Skeptic says:

    Guess they are creating a new word in the process, “McA55hole”

  7. MeanMachine says:

    this news makes me grimace

  8. homerjay says:

    @MeanMachine: That was awesome.

  9. tracilyns says:

    Hasn’t McDonald’s repeatedly been suing companies for using the “Mc” prefix, and lost just as many times as they’ve won. They don’t own “Mc,” and can’t regulate how it’s used. I think someone’s a little sensitive about their McCompany.

  10. noneother says:

    unless they own the trademark … what’s the legal standing … ?

    @CaliforniaCajun: haha

  11. Nicholai says:


    McJob is slang for a low-paying, low-prestige job that requires few skills and offers very little chance of intracompany advancement.

    I am so going to use this word more often.

  12. sam-i-am says:

    I knew a lawyer a while back who was involved in some lawsuit against McDonalds. It involved her going through thousands of customer coupons that had been used.

    Each one had a nice stamp on it to show that it had been used: “McVoid”

    No joke.

  13. silverlining says:

    Isn’t there a movie called “McLibel”?

    McF*ing ridiculous.

  14. GenXCub says:

    The problem is, McJob has been around for such a long time, and yet I never hear anyone use the term. If dictionaries are supposed to support the vernacular (hence the odious addition of the nuclear pronounciation noo kyoo ler – thanks G-Dub) and people don’t use it, I don’t see why there’s any problem with it being pulled.

  15. Trai_Dep says:

    I’d be glad to call them “Wal-Mart Jobs” but too many syllables. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

    GenXCub – yup, it’s venacular. It’s just in certain segments of the population.

  16. magic8ball says:

    The problem, from McDonalds’ point of view, is that they have to aggressively pursue “violations” of the name to keep it from passing into common usage. If it becomes common usage (like the word “aspirin” did, for example) then they can no longer defend the trademark. If at some point in the future they decide to take someone to court for, say, opening another fast food restaurant called “McDonald’s,” the court is going to look at things like whether other people have also used the name, and whether McDonald’s bothered to go after those other people.

    For the record, IANAL, just a linguist.

  17. Mayor McRib says:

    What’s this all about?

  18. etinterrapax says:

    This English teacher couldn’t care less what gets into a dictionary. It’s a dictionary. I agree with Acambras–they’re just upset because of the negative connotations. Can’t help them there. Stuff becomes what it becomes. It’s the price of being iconic.

  19. Craig says:

    I’d like to see it backfire on them to the point where “Mc” is declared to be common use and they have to change their name to “Donalds.”

  20. Craig says:

    I forgot to add that once they change their name to “Donalds” they can then be sued by Disney.

  21. ahwannabe says:

    I’ve never even heard the word “McJob.” “McMansion”, on the other hand, I hear all the time.

  22. @GenXCub: Funny enough GenXCub, I first learned the word, ‘McJob’ from Douglas Coupland’s ‘Generation X’ back in the 90’s.

  23. Chaluapman says:

    Roble Roble Roble

  24. Bay State Darren says:

    The prefix Mc- denotes a fast food company, huh? That’s funny, we Irish-Americans (and most likely the native Irish too) think of it as reflecting our heritage and culture (I’ve got two Mc-‘s in my name). But to be fair, we’ve only been using it for a few centuries and didn’t think to register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (CrapDonald’s is smarter than us on that, I guess.) If the prefix Mc- belongs to anyone, it’s us. Thanks for bastardizing it, Roy Kroft, et al.

  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    If you google “McJob,” it returns 478,000 entries for the word. Good luck, McDonald’s! (Not the mention the whole idea of suing a dictionary to leave a word out just because you don’t like it is McPerposterous).

    And, just to add insult to injury, I’ve added McJob to Firefox’s cutom dictionary :)

  26. katewrath says:

    Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” once mentioned in an interview that in seven years of plots involving every kind of monster, violence and death, the only serious pushback they ever got was in season six, when Buffy worked for a fast food restaurant. No, really. The network got so much pressure from McDonalds that they had to actually write the job off the show.

    And not because the restaurant itself was disgusting. No, the problem was that Buffy clearly hated working there and regarded it as a soul-sucking waste of her life. THAT was McDonald’s big problem with the plot line.

    Newsflash: If you want people to think that your business is an awesome place work, make it an awesome place to work. You’ll notice that Costco and The Container Store don’t have people snarking about their working conditions. Huh, I wonder why that is?

  27. Bay State Darren says:

    @katewrath: I’m guessing the answer is no, but did Buffy even call it McDonald’s?

  28. emax4 says:

    I agree with you Katewrath. If they’re upset about it being a negative connotation, then start paying the workers $10 an hour and stop suing others for using the “Mc” prefix. Their legal actions have finally caught up with them and they’re going to have to start making positive changes. If anything, this news makes me want to start using the word more often.

  29. Nygdan says:

    Does McDonald’s understand what a Dictionary is? You can’t have a ‘campaign’ to have a word removed from it. They’ve got to be kidding if they think the OED can be pressured into removing it. If a word has become part of the english language, it gets into the dictionary, you can’t legislate to have it removed.

  30. Nygdan says:

    I don’t think that they’re trying to force the OED to change it, rather they seem to want to make a case that McDonalds is such a great place to work that a ‘mcjob’ wouldn’t be a bad job, as defined in the dictionary.

  31. AcilletaM says:

    I heard McJob used. It was a while ago when I was in school and McJobs were the only options we had.

  32. OnceWasCool says:

    Here is an idea!

    STOP BUYING MCDONALDS!! Save your money and go buy a dictionary!

    Since they have gone McNuts, let them be McAlone in their McEmpty McRestaurants.

    Companies get so big they completely loose touch with the real world.

  33. Omri says:

    Roger Shuy over at academic uberblog Language Log has been mocking this for the better part of a year:

  34. IC18 says:

    I McHeard the McTerm McJobs a McDozen McTimes, I McBelieve it was McUsed in the McSuper McSize Me McMovie as well as other McCannontations. So McPiss off McRonalds.

  35. froggirl says:

    @Bay State Darren:

    No, in the Buffyverse, the fast food empire was named the DoubleMeat Palace. She quit after being attacked by a customer who was actually a demon…though she never did figure out just what the “secret ingredient” was.

  36. TechnoDestructo says:

    Calvin got a job!

  37. snowferret says:

    MY question to them is how would they define it?
    A fullfilling career with exelent prospects? That wouldn’t really be the way people are using the word now is it? Might as well change the definition of the word crap to sound like food so they don’t feel so bad serving it. Doesn’t change what it realy is though.

  38. Bay State Darren says:

    @froggirl: Figured as much. Thanx!

  39. rmaguir says:

    This is is not the first time that McDonald’s has done this, and it’s certainly not the first time a large organization has tried to. Potato farmers, for example, tried to clean up the “couch potato.”

  40. Bay State Darren says:

    I stand by my first comment in this thread. Mc- belongs to the Irish, not a fast food company.

  41. KJones says:

    What’s next? Will they try to ban the Horace Silver song, “Filthy McNasty”?

    The title is actually a pretty good description of their “food”.

    “She is poisoning the world with her hamburgers, and we can’t even get a lousy beer.”
    – Goose Gossage, former pitcher of the San Diego Padres (when it was owned by Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc). Gossage was suspended without pay until he apologized.


    (And to The Consumerist site owner, sorry for sending this a second time if you chose not to post it the first time. I post this again because I thought it was a login problem, and not done to spam you.)

  42. Craig says:

    Let’s all get together and publish a McDictionary.

  43. Craig says:

    It will include a limited choice of bad words that have been sitting around unused for a while.