Quote Originally Posted by jere7my View Post
Oh? How so? The only definition I'm familiar with is the one Hitchcock used: it's an object that mechanically drives the plot and motivates the characters without actually mattering in and of itself. It could be swapped out for a golden nugget or a coded diary without affecting the plot. (Or, as Hitchcock put it, "the audience don't care.") The Maltese Falcon and the briefcase in Pulp Fiction are the two classic examples that first come to mind for me. How do people use it now?
The most common modern usage of MacGuffin is simply any object that's central to the plot, regardless of whether it's actually "interchangeable" or not.

I don't think the Gates are Hitchcockian MacGuffins, for instance.