Glossary

Buck

The word buck is a slang term for one US dollar. The word’s use traces back to 1748, forty-four years before the first US dollar became minted.

Why is a dollar called a buck?

In frontier areas, before and after the US Revolution, money was in short supply and precious metal coins were the preferred method of exchange.

One of the most valuable tradable commodities on the frontier were deerskins, or ‘buckskins’, used to make tents, coats, moccasins, hats, etc. Native Americans traded these buckskins with European colonial settlers and immigrants for goods or services; the skins acted as currency units.

Early references to the term ‘buck’ include a cask of whisky exchanged for five buckskins. Other theories refer to buckshot created by gunpowder, also acting as a barter method.

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