"buck" meaning dollar

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Dec 4 17:41:47 UTC 2006

Thanks for posting these, Steve. The sugg. that "buck" = "buckskin" = "dollar" is well known and may really be correct. This evidence goes some way toward establishing it.

  The missing link, IMO, is evidence that the equivalence of buck hides and dollar value was widely known in pop culture. That would effectively clinch the issue.

  Earlier exx. of "buckskin" or "buck hide" in the slang sense of a "dollar" would also be valuable.


Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Stephen Goranson
Subject: "buck" meaning dollar

OED buck n.8 "slang (org. and chiefly U.S.)" "Origin obscure" (1856)

1854 History of the State of Ohio: First Period, 1650-1787 By James Wickes
Taylor (Cincinnati and Sandusky, 1854) p. 297:

The English said we should buy everything of them, and since we had got saucy,
we should give two bucks fot a blanket (superscript 3) which we used to
get for
one: we should do as they pleased, and they killed some of our people to make
the rest fear them.

(footnote 3) The skin of a buck was "legal tender," in the wilderness, for a

1851 Historical Collections of Ohio: Containing a Collection of the Most
Interesting Facts,... (Cincinnati) By Henry Howe p.274:

A muskrat skin wasequal 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."

1824 Sketches of the History, Manners, and Customs of the North
American Indians
By James Buchanan p. 204:

each buck-skin, one dollar

Stephen Goranson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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