Mudcat Café message #3484486 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149707   Message #3484486
Posted By: MGM·Lion
27-Feb-13 - 06:27 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'
Subject: RE: BS: why is the US dollar called a 'buck?'
There is confusion here as to the use of 'buck' for 'man' [as distinct from the $; tho as will appear there is some connection relating to 'buckskin', the skin of a male deer]. The point is that there is not just one word, but there are two, which, though identical in form, and both basically meaning 'man', are differently derived and hence differ in overtone.

1. The fine young men from mid-C18 onwards, the 'young bucks' (originally plural in form, note), as a derivation from beaux.

2. An Afro slave offered for sale in the US [the female equivalent beiing 'wench'], described and catalogued by the slave-trader as a 'buck', as that iniquitous business could only exist by being predicated on the dehumanisation of its victims: part of which was thus accomplished by using a word for 'male-of-the-species' derived, not from humanity, but from various members of the animal kingdom.

So the usages derived from 1 are non-racial, complimentary even, as e.g. in Don MacLean's American Pie or Steve Tilston's Slip Jigs & Reels cited above; while those deriving from 2, as in the second line of Johnny Come Down To Hilo, may well often appear as racist.