Posted by ESC on May 23, 2007
In Reply to: Sorry, Mac posted by Smokey Stover on May 23, 2007
: : Sorry, Mac.
: : What is the origin of the phrase?
: The plain English meaning is, "I'm sorry, fella." The words Mac, fella, pal, chum, are ways of saying, either in a friendly manner or not, "You, Whatever-your-name-is." The Oxford English Dictionary says "[Mac:]Used as a familiar form of address to a (male) stranger", and other dictionaries say the same thing in different words.
: My guess (an easy one) is that it started someplace where men of Irish or Scottish extraction were commonly encountered.
That's a good theory.
17C+ Celtic Irishman or Scottish man. 1910s+ (U.S.) general term of greeting with no specific ref. to Scottish men implied. Irish/Gaelic mac:son. "Cassell's Dictionary of Slang" by Jonathon Green (Wellington House, London, 1998). Page 757.