What is a Mcjob? – Definition & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Want to hear something utterly ridiculous? In 2007, McDonald’s threatened the Oxford English Dictionary to change the meaning of McJob. According to the corporation, the description was outdated and offensive to the thousands of service workers.

My take on the whole thing is a mix of English and History lessons about the word McJob. Find out its definition, origin, and how to use it in a sentence.

What Does McJob Mean?

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No, it’s not a job at McDonald’s, but the term was coined with the restaurant chain in mind, just like so many things in jest. One time, in high school, I went through the drive-thru and asked for a McWater as a joke. And guess what? They gave it to me!

McJob is a slang word that refers to a low-paying job with few benefits for employees. This type of job is typically low-prestige since it requires a few skills, and the employee has little chance of being promoted. Some dictionaries also have a description of a McJob as unstimulating.

The most common use of the term McJob is in the service industry. Many people consider working at restaurants or retail McJobs because employees are overworked and underpaid.

McJob belongs to the category of words called nouns. A noun is a name of a person, place, object, event, or idea.

History of the Term McJob

The generic term McJobs was coined and trademarked by McDonald’s in 1984, which was initially a training program for their regular restaurant employee. The corporation trained disabled persons to be restaurant employees in the fast-food chain. This trademark expired in 1992 and was therefore canceled.

The word McJob changed meanings after a published column for the Washington Post in 1986. It was a piece written by a sociology professor.

Amitai Etzioni from George Washington University mentioned the “highly routinized” jobs in the service industry. He particularly criticized fast-food chains and their effect on American teenagers.

For Etzioni, these McJobs “undermined school attendance and involvement” through skills that won’t be useful later on.

McJob also appeared in a novel called Interface by Neal Stephenson and Georgen Jewsbury. Like Etzioni, they critiqued the underpaid positions in corporations that are “abstract.”

In general, Etzioni didn’t try to insult the service workers themselves. Instead, critiqued the system and the higher-ups encouraging this exploitation of American teenagers.

His ideas coincide with George Ritzer’s concept of McDonaldization. Both sociologists saw it as an issue resulting from a larger process relating to the modern world’s rationalization.

In 2007, McDonald’s spoke out about the prevalent word McJob. The corporation pushed the Oxford English Dictionary to change the meaning of the word because it is “insulting.” To establish it as an official English word could be offensive to staff in the service industry.

For McDonald’s, “an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects” is an outdated perspective of jobs in the service sector. This was also the message of 67,000 British employees in McDonald’s based on the public petition.

1000 adults answered a poll for the petition launch, which found that 69% found the definition of McJob outdated. 67% also stated that they would be offended or demeaned by the definition, while 61% said they would be offended if someone described their work as such.

Clive Betts, Sheffield Attercliffe Labor MP, sponsored the motion and lamented the use of “derogatory” words toward service workers. Other supporters include David Frost, Kevin Hawkins, and John Blundell. However, no union leader has signed the petition.

Officials of McDonald’s implied that they would file a lawsuit against Merriam-Webster Dictionary. However, they would only do it on the basis of trademark issues. McDonald’s never pushed through with this lawsuit.

The company tried to get good publicity after being nominated for employee awards. However, this award was controversial since employers themselves created it.

It also conflicted with the McLibel case, where the judges ruled that employees are not given fair pay and working conditions.

Today, the pejorative term can be used in several contexts and industries. It may refer to a position that an overqualified individual has filled or a temporary job that doesn’t require college training. some believe the slang term is a little derogatory, but it’s widely debated.  

Examples of McJob in a Sentence

  • Max worries about getting a McJob despite his academic credentials.
  • No matter how book-smart you are, you’ll likely get a McJob if you don’t practice your soft skills.
  • I need to get a McJob to pay for my college tuition fees.
  • The data we’ve seen is that the entry-level McJob probably pays a little more than minimum wage. [ABC News]
  • Amazon has turned a middle-class warehouse career into a McJob. Despite a starting wage well above the federal minimum, the company is dragging down pay in the logistics industry and bracing for a fight with unions. [Bloomberg]

McJob Summary

This guide has shown you the definition and history of the word McJob. It’s a controversial slang phrase that describes a low-paying job with a low probability of advancement.

In the end, even the most repetitive and menial tasks require skills and patience. McJob’s description remains recorded in dictionaries. Do you think it’s because there’s accuracy to this term?