• McMansion •
mæk-mæn-chên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A large house, quickly built for show but with no interesting or appealing features.
Notes: The fast-food chain McDonald's gave rise to a host of words with its prefix referring to quickly created undistinguished objects (see Word History). McMansion seems to have been one of only a few that have survived. It has even earned a subentry in the Oxford English Dictionary, though we find little mention of it in others.
In Play: Today's word bears a connotation of uniformity and lack of imagination: "After leading the company through five years of devastating losses, Les Smart was fired and given a severance package that paid for a McMansion, a yacht, and a private jet." This word does bring with it a suggestion of cheapness in some sense of the word, though: "As soon as the new Microsoft building opened its doors, McMansions began popping up all over town."
Word History: Today's Good Word first appeared in the US media at the beginning of the 1990s. It was one of many "McWords" that popped up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as McJob and McChurch. They were all created by analogy with McDonald's, one of the earliest and most successful fast food chains in the US. All "McWords" refer to objects quickly and/or cheaply thrown together with no thought for quality. The creation of these words was stimulated by the publication of George Ritzer's The McDonaldization of Society in 1993, which criticizes the effects of technology on human society.
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