There is a bunch of phrases such as

Grumpy McGrumpface
Fatty McFatface
F***y McF***face
Sh***y McSh**face

all with some thousand google hits, Trumpy McTrumpface, or software such as Bloaty McBloatface.

How are those phrases used, and how did they enter common usage in the first place?

EDIT: I have learned that this is a phrasal template.

  • 9
    I would guess that Boaty McBoatface kicked off the trend. Sep 19, 2020 at 12:58
  • 2
    @Kodiologist I don't think it started it, just gave it much wider currency. If it hadn't already been familiar in some circles it would never have attracted the number of votes in the vessel-naming ballot that it did.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 19, 2020 at 17:01
  • I agree with @BoldBen. I first encountered this trope while watching The Daily Show in around 2011 or 2012 and heard Jon Stewart indulge himself with it. I'm pretty sure it was current at the time and not coined by him.
    – Robusto
    Sep 19, 2020 at 19:53
  • [There are a bunch of phrases] Also, this is nonsense rhyming and there are no rules.
    – Lambie
    Sep 19, 2020 at 21:30
  • @Lambie: How would you call a linguistic phenomenon like that?
    – shuhalo
    Sep 19, 2020 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


This Reddit thread has a post which says that it originated with an episode of the Friends TV show. The post (which dates from 2016) says

That convention of nicknaming someone with "Characteristic McCharacteristic" was popularized in an episode of Friends where it was revealed that Ross, a college lecturer, had given all his students nicknames because he didn't know their real ones. After the semester ended he started dating a girl he had named "Cutie McPretty."

The -face part is more recently popularized, but it's been around for years,

I suspect that the Friends script referenced something that was already in current use but even the Friends episode predates "Boaty McBoatface"

  • Well, it is not the ultimate answer, but presumably as close as it anyone has reconstructed.
    – shuhalo
    Sep 21, 2020 at 3:49
  • If it was in current use before the Friends episode I doubt that it will be possible to prove it because it probably wasn't in print. Also it is certainly possible that the Friends scriptwriters really did invent it and it just struck a chord with a section of the Friends fans. After that it got adapted and turned into the rather harsher Something McSomthingface that we know today.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 21, 2020 at 22:42

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