Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buck n.3

[orig. abbr. SE buckskin, an item used as barter in 19C America]

1. (US) $1, $10.

[ document in S.P. Hildreth Pioneer Hist. (1848) 138: I do certify, that I am indebted to the bearer, Captain Johnny, seven bucks and one doe, for the use of the states, this 19th April, 1779. Signed, Samuel Sample, assistant quartermaster].
[H. Howe Historical Colls. of Ohio 274: A muskrat skin was equal to a quarter of a dollar; a racoon skin, a third of a dollar; a doe skin, half a dollar, and a buck skin, ‘the almighty dollar.’].
[US]Dem. State Journal 3 July 3/2: Bernard [...] mulcted in the sum of twenty bucks [DA].
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 36: When I beat that ace full for him I captured sixty good bucks from him on that hand.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley in Peace and War 177: Man alive, don’t you know what a dollar is? Carlisle’d hand him out a plunk, a case, a buck.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 26: Kin you lemme take a couple o’ bucks till Satiddy?
[US]G. Bowerman diary 6 Mar. in Carnes Compensations of War (1983) 18: We receive our pay 184 francs for a ‘buck’.
[US]E. Pound letter 30 Nov. in Paige (1971) 190: The book, of course, can’t be made for 25 bucks.
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 217: Go to one of these drugstores that [...] could sell you the best rye right off at five or six bucks a pint.
[US]R. Fisher Conjure-Man Dies 241: He’s got eighty bucks o’ my buddy’s dough.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Billy the Kidder’ in Blue Ribbon Western Nov. [Internet] I will personally add ten buckaroos to the reward.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 21: I decided to spend a buck on beer.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 7: ‘That’s right,’ Jackson said. ‘Fifteen hundred bucks.’.
[US]J. Heller Good As Gold (1979) 309: I could probably pull out now with over a million bucks clear.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 43: We gave her six hundred bucks … and never saw her again.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 10: Not only couldn’t you shake down a couple of bucks.
[UK]M. Collins Keepers of Truth 127: Sure that’s a good couch, but you paid forty bucks in nineteen fifty-two for it, Pa.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 32: You gonna parlay the few bucks you have phoning bets in?

2. sixpence, usu. preceded by a number of shillings, e.g. six and a buck, 6s 6d.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 99: Buck sixpence. The word is rarely used by itself, but generally denotes the sixpence attached to shillings in reference to cost, as, ‘three and a buck,’ three shillings and sixpence.
[UK]Household Words 20 June 155: ‘Buck’ is most likely a corruption of ‘fyebuck,’ a slang name for sixpence, which is now almost, if not altogether, obsolete.
[UK]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 19 July 2/4: Sixpence is a popular coin in slangdom [...] ‘bandy’ [...] and ‘downer,’ ‘buck,’ and ‘fye-back’.

3. (US) $100; thus half-buck, $50; buck-and-a-half $150.

[US]L. Hoban ‘Time to Kill’ Crack Detective Jan. [Internet] And here I’ve been selling my services to Jergin for a buck and a half a week.
[US]J. Thompson Texas by the Tail (1994) 139: ‘A couple of bucks will be fine,’ [...] he dropped two hundred dollars on the table.
[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 10: He’d go a buck and a half apiece for as many as I could get.
[US]G. Radano Cop Stories 140: I want a buck and a half for the information.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 39: Deek would hand the big boy a fifty [...] The dude would have to stick the Sherman in his mouth to pocket the half-buck.
[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 195: No, man, a buck is a hunded dollars.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 43: ‘How much we get?’ [...] ‘Buck forty.’.
[US]T. Dorsey Riptide Ultra-Glide 124: The weed is a buck-twenty for a one-finger bag.

4. (US) money, irrespective of amount (although the image is usu. of quantity).

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 35/1: Buck, n. 1. [...] 2. A dollar; a tidy sum. (’A nice [or good] buck’—a good income.).
[US]R. Graziano Somebody Up There Likes Me 209: A few more fights and a few more bucks. [Ibid.] 270: We’re going to make a lot of bucks yet.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 133: We make a trip, take a new car south or north or west for delivery, get bucks for that. Pick up a few dollars wherever we are.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 59: I’m jus’ a little guy makin’ a buck.
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 107: If somebody could think of a quick way to make a crooked buck in the Arctic Circle, the mob would be there, ready to take over.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 68: Wayne needin some major bucks for scorin himself a decent gun. [Ibid.] 79: So, magic-boy, you tell me where we gonna score that kind of buck.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 140: He should be thinkin how to make some decent bucks a his own.

5. (S.Afr.) a rand.

[SA]S.S. Mekgoe Lindiwe (2001) I iii: How much? Hmm! Four thousand bucks?

6. (Aus./N.Z.) A$1.

[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 224: Anybody with a buck in his pocket he couldn’t care less about.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 11: It was just my luck to run into a guy [...] who was prepared to give me ten buddha sticks at a time ‘up front’ and charge me ninety bucks for them later.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 196: Let’s say twenty-five bucks for the three packets.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 35: buck [...] 2. A Kiwi dollar, adapted from American dollar.
[Aus]D. McDonald Luck in the Greater West (2008) 9: For every ounce of pot he sold he made a hundred bucks.
[Aus]me-stepmums-too-fuckin-hot-mate at www.fakku.net [Internet] Five bucks says you were gonna take me dacks and give yourself a wristy with them.

7. 100, in non-monetary contexts.

[US]Orlando Sentinel (FL) 24 Apr. 28/2: ‘I weigh a buck seventy-five [175 pounds]’.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 26: ‘How much does she weigh?’ ‘A buck forty.’.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] Trello [...] weight a buck-fifty, soaking wet.
D. Winslow Border [ebook] Eighty, ninety, a hundred, they slide into a banked turn and Cirello feels like he’s going to puke. Next lap Eddie kicks it up to a buck twenty.

8. (US black) $100,000.

Young Jeezy ‘White Girl’ [lyrics] Last time we came through, we spent about a buck eighty (damn) / ‘About a buck eighty?’ Yeah, a hundred-eighty thousand (yeah!).

9. €1 (one euro).

exberliner.com 2 Aug. [Internet] It’s an extra 150 bucks from the government for keeping your child at home.

In compounds

buck-fifty (n.) [play on sense 4, buck-fifty, i.e. $150; the slash requires around 150 stitches to close it]

(US prison) a razor-slash that runs either over the top of the skull or from ear to ear.

[UK]Guardian Weekend 2 Jan. 11: Most inmates live in terror of getting jumped and getting a ‘buck-fifty’ – so-called because it takes about 150 stitches to close the razor-inflicted wound.

In phrases

in the bucks (adj.)

(US) well-off, wealthy.

[US] F.D. Pasley Al Capone 56: His guests included persons ‘not in the bucks.’.
[US]I. Shulman Cry Tough! 89: A fifty! [...] you must be in the bucks.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 35/1: Bucks, to be in the. To be well supplied with money.
up in the bucks (adj.) (also up in the dough)

(US) wealthy, prospering.

[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Wedding Bells Will Ring’ in Short Stories (1937) 205: I could find plenty to do besides hanging around here if I was up in the dough.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 522: Yessir, Studs Lonigan was going to be up in the bucks.