Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buck up v.2

[orig. Winchester Coll. jargon; ult. SE buck]

1. to encourage, to cheer someone up.

[UK]W.S. Maugham Liza of Lambeth (1966) 120: ’Ave a little drop more, Liza [...] it do buck yer up.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Black Mask (1992) 272: Feel equal to a cigarette? It will buck you up, Bunny.
[Ire]Joyce ‘The Dead’ Dubliners (1956) 183: Now, then, Teddy, I’m going to fill you out a good glass of lemonade just to buck you up.
[Aus]D.H. Lawrence Kangaroo 375: Cripes, there’s nothing bucks you up sometimes like killing a man—nothing. You feel a perfect angel after it.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 328: A full house, money turned away, encores all round [...] would buck her up no end.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 132: Anything to buck old Jimmy up.
[US](con. WWI) J.W. Bellah ‘Fear’ in Mason Fighting American (1945) 445: It helped buck him up to think about it.
[UK]K. Amis letter 14 Sept. in Leader (2000) 212: Well old lad this is only a short note but I thought it would buck you up.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 109: You certainly bucked her up like a tonic.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 167: A really sensational event [...] she had just been present at must have bucked her up like a week at the seaside.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 36: They were all trying to buck me up.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 225: I’m doing my ritual best to buck him up.

2. to cheer (oneself) up.

[UK]Graham’s Mag. Jan. 38: ‘I don’t see the trouble,’ said Mrs Fitzgig, ‘why can’t a man buck up?’ [OED].
[UK]E. Pugh Street in Suburbia n.p.: Buckin’ up fer theirselves when times is bad.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 69: Twee give Twee-est deevie ickle dinnie, and Twee-est buck up.
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 623: He was a pompous dug-out, very splendid in his red tabs and probably bucked up at having just been under fire.
[US](con. 1900s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 46: Terrible thing, all right [...] and you just want to buck up and take it to the lord in prayer.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 784: It’s sometimes for the best, Mary, so you must buck up!
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 7: Now come along you must buck up.
[Aus]‘Charles Barrett’ Address: Kings Cross 73: ‘Buck up, Claudine. You look washed out, and that’s no way for a hostess to look’.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 167: Buck up, Tommy. It’ll be Christmas dinner before long.
[UK]N. Griffiths Sheepshagger 84: Not far now, lads. Buck up. Couple of miles and we’ll be at the lake.

3. to improve.

[US]J.C. Neal Peter Ploddy and Other Oddities 116: ‘Why can’t a man buck up?’ [...] ‘You must make an effort, Shiverton.’.
[UK]W.S. Maugham Liza of Lambeth (1966) 7: You buck up; give us a tune that’s got some guts in it!
[US]P. White West End 143: Archie had been ‘bucking up.’ Even his tutor admitted that there was a chance ‘he might get through’.
[UK]Gem 23 Jan. 24: Things’ll buck up now, you’ll see.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 207: Wish you’d buck up, though.
[UK]R. Hall Well of Loneliness (1976) 234: My work will buck up – I’ve been feeling slack lately, and it’s told on my writing.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 838: Paddy, buck up and be a man!
[UK]P. Pringle Boy’s Book of Cricket 25: You’re going to lose your place in the team if you don’t buck up.
[US](con. 1944) A. Myrer Big War 272: Maybe he’ll buck up in the clutch. Eschelman was the worst eight-ball in the whole First Division and he came through fine.
[UK]A. Wesker Chips with Everything I vi: But there’s one of you needs to buck up his ideas.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 139: I would have to ‘buck my ideas up’, they said.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 154: What’id be a good tonic for her, mister? To buck her up, like?
[UK]Guardian 16 July 22: Do buck up, Boyne, and listen.

4. to act in an arrogant manner.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Disposal of a Dog’ in Benno and Some of the Push 137: ‘It’s no use buckin’ up, Benno,’ said the Don. ‘I wasn’t responsible fer me actions.’.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 198: The bosses are cuttin’ loose all along the line for a high old time. [...] They’ve bucked up real high an’ mighty what of all that killin’ the other day.