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McMansion as a term went from “funny criticism” to “spiteful slur”

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Author: Brian

A Denver resident suggests the term McMansion has become too broad to be useful:

Regarding McMansions, this term originally meant very large tract houses that pretend to be grander than their vapid finishes should allow. They are mass-produced like hamburgers with no understanding of taste or style. Now McMansion has morphed into any big house no matter its utility or architectural worth. A funny criticism has turned into a spiteful slur.

An interesting observation. The term arose in the 1990s and its “Mc” prefix suggested a mass produced item. This was not necessarily a new critique of housing; the postwar housing boom also gave birth to large developers – like Levitt and Sons – and tract homes became a major part of suburban critiques (see the song “Little Boxes“). And the McDonaldization of the world was in full swing across a range of industries.

Yet, today calling a home a McMansion is definitely not positive and tends to lead to animosity among neighbors (a recent example here). Big houses invite though own criticisms – waste of resources, unnecessary space, larger than nearby homes – though what exactly qualifies is unclear. You can’t find too many defenders of McMansions.

Does this suggest the term has outlived its usefulness?

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