Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buck n.1

[all fig. uses of SE buck, a he-goat or male deer ]

1. [late 16C–mid-19C] a cuckold .

2. [early 17C–18C] a bold, daring person of either sex [abbr. of buck-a-dandy, a fop, but note Ware, who suggests a root in SE buckram, a stiffening fabric used by such dandies in the full-skirted coats of the 18C].

3. [late 17C+] a bold, dashing man, a roisterer; often as old buck.

4. [late 18C–mid-19C] as my buck, an affectionate term of address.

5. [early 19C+] (US/Aus./N.Z.) a man, 19C use mainly of a Native American or Aus. Aboriginal, 20C+ of African-Americans; derog. unless used by blacks [the strength and sexuality of the male animal underpins this sense in particular, where buck is often an abbr. of the marginally more opprobrious buck nigger under buck adj.1 ; the female equivalent is a wench].

6. [mid-19C–1920s] a dandy [abbr. of buckwheat n. (1)].

7. [mid-19C–1960s] a small dealer who works for a more powerful master.

8. [1900s–40s] (Aus.) a foreman.

9. [1900s–60s] (US prison) a priest, esp. as a prison chaplain.

10. [1910s+] (Aus.) spirit, energy.

11. [1920s+] (UK, orig. Liverpool, also buckess) a tearaway, a young, aggressive criminal.

12. [2000s] (UK juv.) an extremely attractive person of either sex.

[earliest uses suggest jargon of songbird-rearing]

In derivatives

buckish (adj.)

[mid-18C–early 19C] acting in a dashing manner.

In compounds

buck bail (n.)

[late 18C–mid-19C] (orig. UK Und.) bail put up by one member of a gang for another.

buckface (n.) (also buck’s face, buck’s head)

[17C–early 19C] a cuckold; thus buckheaded adj.

buckload (n.) [play on shot n.1 (6a), i.e. buck-shot; note J.S. Williams Old Times in W. Tennessee (1878) ‘Twenty-four "blue whistlers" was an ordinary "buck load," [...] It was a common occurrence, when fired into a drove of deer, to "bring down" three or four]

[19C] (US) a large measure of liquor.

buck nun (n.)

[1900s-30s] (US) a batchelor; one who lives alone.

buck party (n.) (also bucks’ party)

[late 19C–1950s] (Aus./US) a party for men only.

buck’s night (n.)

[1970s+] (Aus.) a party for men only; a pre-nuptial ‘stag night’.

bucktown (n.)

1. the rough (and by stereotpung, usu. Irish or black) part of town [sense 5].

2. [1990s+] (US black) Brooklyn, New York [buck v.3 (2)].

buck-whyling (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

In phrases

buck of the first head (n.) (also buck of the first cut) [SE first head, primacy]

[late 18C–early 19C] a celebrated debauchee, whose excesses outpace those of his peers.

buck o’ wax (n.)

[mid-19C] a term of affection, aplied to a man.

buck up (v.)

see separate entries.

cut a buck (v.)

[mid-19C] (US) to show off.

old buck (n.)

1. [late 18C–1920s] a general term of address, usu. with a sense of affection or familiarity.

2. [mid-18C–1910s] a man, usu. one viewed affectionately.

3. one’s father.

4. see sense 3 above.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

buck-assed (adj.) (also buck-ass)

[1940s] (US) simple, unadorned, lit. ‘naked’.

buck bathing (n.) [buck-naked ]

[1930s] (US) nude bathing.

buck-eyed (adj.)

see separate entry.

buck fever (n.) [hunting jargon buck fever, the nerves felt by inexperienced hunters faced by the game they have been pursuing; they get so excited they fail to shoot]

[late 19C+] (S.Afr./US) nervousness in the face of an unknown or new situation that may render one incapable of action.

buck fitch (n.) [SE buck-fitch, a male polecat]

[late 17C–early 19C] (UK Und.) an ageing lecher, an old roué.

buckhead (n.)

[1990s+] (UK juv.) a person with buck teeth.

buck-naked (adj.) (also buck, bucked) [as naked as a SE buck; or ? corruption of butt n.1 (1a) + SE naked]

[mid-19C; 1920s+] (orig. US) naked.

buckskin (n.) [SE buckskin, leather (garments) made from the skin of a buck]

1. [late 18C–early 19C] an American soldier, fighting in the Revolutionary War.

2. [19C+] a native of Virginia.