McDonald's asks dictionaries to redefine 'McJobs'

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CHICAGO -- McDonald's Corp. is reviving its campaign to ditch the dictionary definition of "McJob," this time setting its sites on the vocabulary of Britons. The world's largest fast food company said Tuesday it plans to launch a campaign in the U.K. this spring to get the country's dictionary houses to change current references to the word "McJob." The Oxford English Dictionary, considered by many wordsmiths as the gold standard for the English language, is one of those that will be targeted. It defines the noun as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."

The word first cropped up two decades ago in the Washington Post, according to the dictionary. But executives at Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's say the definition is demeaning to its workers and say theyll ask dictionary editors to amend the definition.

"Dictionaries are supposed to be paragons of accuracy. And in this case, they got it completely wrong," said Walt Riker, a McDonald's spokesman. "It's a complete disservice and incredibly demeaning to a terrific work force and a company that's been a jobs and opportunity machine for 50 years."

But the restaurant chain that helped coin the phrase "super size" may have its work cut out.

In 2003, editors at the Merriam-Webster dictionary declined to remove or change their definition of "McJob" after McDonald's balked at its inclusion in the book's 11th edition. Instead, the Springfield, Mass. publisher said the word was accurate and appropriate.

Amanda Pierce, a spokeswoman for McDonald's U.K. operations, declined to comment on the specifics of the company's newest campaign, but said it will kick off in May with the goal of changing what she called an "out-of-date" definition.

She said she did not know how long the campaign would last, saying that depended on "how far and wide the campaign goes."

A representative from the New York office of Oxford University Press, which publishes the Oxford dictionary, said nobody was immediately available to comment.

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