Part of speech: noun
Origin: British English, 1930s
An object or device in a movie or a book that serves merely as a trigger for the plot.
Examples of MacGuffin in a sentence
"The Holy Grail serves as a MacGuffin in many films, including 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,' 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,' and 'The Da Vinci Code.'""
"Critics said his story relied too heavily upon a MacGuffin and never resolved the mystery."
The ultimate MacGuffin might be the Holy Grail. In many books and movies, heroes embark upon epic adventures in search of it, but ultimately, the stories are about the voyages and the characters, not the Grail.
Did you Know?
Legendary British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock is credited with coining this word (sometimes spelled "McGuffin"), but the origin really lies with his screenwriter, Angus MacPhail. The duo used this Scottish surname to describe objects or events that drive the suspense of a story. Famous MacGuffins in cinema include the rug in "The Big Lebowski," the ring from "Lord of the Rings," and the briefcase in "Pulp Fiction."