Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: MacGyver

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is MacGyver. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

To MacGyver something is to make, form, or repair it with materials that are conveniently on hand.

// Social media websites are full of videos that show people MacGyvering everything from a life jacket out of a pair of pants to a stove using three metal cans and some dirt.

MACGYVER in Context

“The artist [Mimi Park] MacGyvered her small-scale sonic, kinetic, and fog-emitting bricolages, which are variously activated by the viewer’s presence or a timer, using a combination of found objects, toys, motors, sensors, and craft materials.” — Cassie Packard,, 14 Mar. 2022

Did You Know?

Angus MacGyver, as portrayed by actor Richard Dean Anderson in the titular, action-packed television series MacGyver, was many things—including a secret agent, a Swiss Army knife enthusiast, and a convert to vegetarianism—but he was no MacGuffin (a character that keeps the plot in motion despite lacking intrinsic importance). In fact, so memorable was this man, his mullet, and his ability to use whatever was available to him—often simple things, such as a paper clip, chewing gum, or a rubber band—to escape a sticky situation or to make a device to help him complete a mission, that people began associating his name with making quick fixes or finding innovative solutions to immediate problems. Hence the verb MacGyver, a slang term meaning to “make, form, or repair (something) with what is conveniently on hand.” After years of steadily increasing and increasingly varied usage following the show’s run from 1985 to 1992 (tracked in some detail here), MacGyver was added to our online dictionary in 2022.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply