pass the buck (1856)

Mon Apr 25 14:55:41 UTC 2005

        The Century Dictionary may clarify the historical meaning of "buck."  This meaning is not in the original Century Dictionary (1889 - 1891), but it is in the supplement (1909), as follows:

        <<In _poker,_ any article placed in the pool with the chips, to be taken down by the winner, indicating that when he deals it shall be a jack-pot.  In straight poker, since the winner of the pool always deals, the buck is passed round to mark whose turn it is to ante for all the players.>>

        So it isn't hard to see why, at least in straight poker, players would prefer to pass the buck.  Incidentally, the Century Dictionary does not derive the term from buckskin, but from the noun meaning "a violent effort of a horse or mule to rid itself of its rider or burden; the act of bucking."

John Baker

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