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  1. the male of the deer, antelope, rabbit, hare, sheep, or goat.
  2. the male of certain other animals, as the shad.
  3. an impetuous, dashing, or spirited man or youth.
  4. Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to an American Indian male or a black male.
  5. buckskin.
  6. bucks, casual oxford shoes made of buckskin, often in white or a neutral color.
  1. Military. of the lowest of several ranks involving the same principal designation, hence subject to promotion within the rank: buck private; buck sergeant.

Origin of buck1

before 1000; Middle English bukke, Old English bucca he-goat, bucc male deer; cognate with Dutch bok, German Bock, Old Norse bukkr; def. 5, 6 by shortening; buck private (from circa 1870) perhaps as extension of general sense “male,” i.e., having no status other than being male


verb (used without object)
  1. (of a saddle or pack animal) to leap with arched back and come down with head low and forelegs stiff, in order to dislodge a rider or pack.
  2. Informal. to resist or oppose obstinately; object strongly: The mayor bucked at the school board's suggestion.
  3. (of a vehicle, motor, or the like) to operate unevenly; move by jerks and bounces.
verb (used with object)
  1. to throw or attempt to throw (a rider or pack) by bucking.
  2. to force a way through or proceed against (an obstacle): The plane bucked a strong headwind.
  3. to strike with the head; butt.
  4. to resist or oppose obstinately; object strongly to.
  5. Football. (of a ball-carrier) to charge into (the opponent's line).
  6. to gamble, play, or take a risk against: He was bucking the odds when he bought that failing business.
  7. to press a reinforcing device against (the force of a rivet) in order to absorb vibration and increase expansion.
  1. an act of bucking.
Verb Phrases
  1. buck for, to strive for a promotion or some other advantage: to buck for a raise.
  2. buck up, to make or become more cheerful, vigorous, etc.: She knew that with a change of scene she would soon buck up.

Origin of buck2

1855–60; verbal use of buck1, influenced in some senses by buck3


  1. a sawhorse.
  2. Gymnastics. a cylindrical, leather-covered block mounted in a horizontal position on a single vertical post set in a steel frame, for use chiefly in vaulting.
  3. any of various heavy frames, racks, or jigs used to support materials or partially assembled items during manufacture, as in airplane assembly plants.
  4. Also called door buck. a doorframe of wood or metal set in a partition, especially one of light masonry, to support door hinges, hardware, finish work, etc.
verb (used with object)
  1. to split or saw (logs, felled trees, etc.).
Verb Phrases
  1. buck in, Surveying, Optical Tooling. to set up an instrument in line with two marks.

Origin of buck3

First recorded in 1855–60; short for sawbuck1


  1. Poker. any object in the pot that reminds the winner of some privilege or obligation when his or her turn to deal next comes.
verb (used with object)
  1. to pass (something) along to another, especially as a means of avoiding responsibility or blame: He bucked the letter on to the assistant vice president to answer.
  1. pass the buck, to shift responsibility or blame to another person: Never one to admit error, he passed the buck to his subordinates.

Origin of buck4

First recorded in 1860–65; short for buckhorn knife, an object which served this function


[buhk]British Dialect
  1. lye used for washing clothes.
  2. clothes washed in lye.
verb (used with object)
  1. to wash or bleach (clothes) in lye.

Origin of buck5

1350–1400; Middle English bouken (v.); compare Middle Low German buken, büken to steep in lye, Middle High German būchen, bruchen


verb (used without object), noun Indian English.
  1. bukh.


adverb Informal.
  1. completely; stark: buck naked.

Origin of buck7

An Americanism dating back to 1925–30; of obscure origin


noun Slang.
  1. a dollar.

Origin of buck8

1855–60, Americanism; perhaps buck1 in sense “buckskin”; deerskins were used by Indians and frontiersmen as a unit of exchange in transactions with merchants


  1. Pearl (Sy·den·strick·er) [sahyd-n-strik-er] /ˈsaɪd nˌstrɪk ər/, 1892–1973, U.S. novelist: Nobel Prize 1938.
  2. a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for buck

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And Buck was just sober enough to perceive that he was being held lightly.

  • All of which Andy heard, and he knew that Buck Heath intended him to hear them.

  • "Don't be a fool, Buck," said Jasper, glancing over his shoulder.

  • "Come over to the saloon, Buck, and have one on me," said Jasper.

  • Every one could hear Andrew say: "I hear you've been making a talk about me, Buck?"

British Dictionary definitions for buck


    1. the male of various animals including the goat, hare, kangaroo, rabbit, and reindeer
    2. (as modifier)a buck antelope
  1. Southern African an antelope or deer of either sex
  2. US informal a young man
  3. archaic a robust spirited young man
  4. archaic a dandy; fop
  5. the act of bucking
  1. (intr) (of a horse or other animal) to jump vertically, with legs stiff and back arched
  2. (tr) (of a horse, etc) to throw (its rider) by bucking
  3. (when intr , often foll by against) informal, mainly US and Canadian to resist or oppose obstinatelyto buck against change; to buck change
  4. (tr; usually passive) informal to cheer or encourageI was very bucked at passing the exam
  5. US and Canadian informal (esp of a car) to move forward jerkily; jolt
  6. US and Canadian to charge against (something) with the head down; butt
See also buck up
Derived Formsbucker, noun

Word Origin

Old English bucca he-goat; related to Old Norse bukkr, Old High German bock, Old Irish bocc


  1. US, Canadian and Australian informal a dollar
  2. Southern African informal a rand
  3. a fast buck easily gained money
  4. bang for one's buck See bang 1 (def. 15)

Word Origin

C19: of obscure origin


  1. gymnastics a type of vaulting horse
  2. US and Canadian a stand for timber during sawingAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): sawhorse
  1. (tr) US and Canadian to cut (a felled or fallen tree) into lengths

Word Origin

C19: short for sawbuck


  1. poker a marker in the jackpot to remind the winner of some obligation when his turn comes to deal
  2. pass the buck informal to shift blame or responsibility onto another
  3. the buck stops here informal the ultimate responsibility lies here

Word Origin

C19: probably from buckhorn knife, placed before a player in poker to indicate that he was the next dealer


  1. Pearl S (ydenstricker). 1892–1973, US novelist, noted particularly for her novel of Chinese life The Good Earth (1931): Nobel prize for literature 1938
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for buck


"male deer," c.1300, earlier "male goat;" from Old English bucca "male goat," from Proto-Germanic *bukkon (cf. Old Saxon buck, Middle Dutch boc, Dutch bok, Old High German boc, German Bock, Old Norse bokkr), perhaps from a PIE root *bhugo (cf. Avestan buza "buck, goat," Armenian buc "lamb"), but some speculate that it is from a lost pre-Germanic language. Barnhart says Old English buc "male deer," listed in some sources, is a "ghost word or scribal error."

Meaning "dollar" is 1856, American English, perhaps an abbreviation of buckskin, a unit of trade among Indians and Europeans in frontier days, attested in this sense from 1748. Pass the buck is first recorded in the literal sense 1865, American English:

The 'buck' is any inanimate object, usually knife or pencil, which is thrown into a jack pot and temporarily taken by the winner of the pot. Whenever the deal reaches the holder of the 'buck', a new jack pot must be made. [J.W. Keller, "Draw Poker," 1887]

Perhaps originally especially a buck-handled knife. The figurative sense of "shift responsibility" is first recorded 1912. Buck private is recorded by 1870s, of uncertain signification.


1848, apparently with a sense of "jump like a buck," from buck (n.1). Related: Bucked; bucking. Buck up "cheer up" is from 1844.


"sawhorse," 1817, American English, apparently from Dutch bok "trestle."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with buck


In addition to the idioms beginning with buck

also see:

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.