Useless But Compelling Facts – September 2008 Answer

Last month we asked you to tell us where the expression “passing the buck” or “the buck stops here” came from. This month’s winner comes to us from Australia, where Peter Le Guay, a Partner of Thomson Playford Cutlers and member of the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (“GALA”), correctly noted that in the latter half of the 1800s, the game of poker became very popular in the United States, with no shortage of “cheats.” To minimize cheating, the dealer regularly changed and the individual next to deal was given a marker—usually a knife with a handle made from a buck’s horn. The marker became known as a “buck” and “passing the buck” meant card dealing was passed to the next person. There is widespread belief that as time went on, silver dollars were used, and the use of “buck” as slang for a dollar originated.