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an object or event in a book or a film that serves as the impetus for the plot

in film, a plot device that has no specific meaning or purpose other than to advance the story; any situation that motivates the action of a film either artificially or substantively; also written MacGuffin
Word Origin

Alfred Hitchcock’s term, based on a story where this device was used in a story set on a Scottish train


A plot or movie device that raises a seemingly crucial question in the minds of the audience, but may well be a cunning deception: The writers wanted a MacGuffin which would set up a series of absurd rules for us/ You still haven’t told me what the McGuffin is. Why were the government and Mr Dsointerested

[1930s+;firstusedbythedirectorAlfred Hitchcock, and perhaps suggested by McGuffin, ”a gift that is not to be opened until Christmas,” hence something tantalizing, found by 1925]


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