Pass the Buck (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Pass the Buck"?

The term "pass the buck" means to avoid responsibility by giving it to someone else.
Pass the Buck (Origin)
The "buck" in the phrase refers to a knife with buck-horn handle. "Pass the buck" originates from the poker tables of America in the 1850s. To mitigate the risk of cheating, the dealer of any card game would rotate around the players. The dealer at the game table would be marked with a buck-horned knife (the "buck") stuck in the table. Therefore, "to pass the buck" meant to pass the responsibility for dealing the cards. "Buck" has since become a synonym for responsibility.

Of interest, a silver dollar was later used as a marker, and this could be the origin of buck meaning dollar.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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