Buck

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Buck form one of the sets of homophones listed by the then Poet Laureate Robert Bridges.
(For more, see Bridges homophones). AWE has a category listing our articles on each of these.

Bridges says that these homophones have various roots and senses; OED, (2021) lists 11 nouns, 2 adjectives, and 10 verbs written buck. Of these, AWE looks at those most likely to be useful to current students using British English.

  • Buck is the male of some animals, originally a male fallow deer) or a male ('billy') goat, but since applied to other species , such as hares, rabbits, and (in the US) sheep ('rams'). In its Afrikaans form bok it is mostly used for males of any antelope species, such as springbok.
    • In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was applied to humans: a 'buck' was a fashionable young man, dashing and adventurous; a dandy known for his striking attire; often driving his own carriage; often involved in duelling. See Regency Buck (1935), by Georgette Heyer, for a fictional example of the type. Contrariwise, buck was also used disparagingly of [usually black] males of races perceived as inferior. Avoid this racist and colonial usage. (It may well be the origin of the adjective buck-baked, as reflecting the practice of stripping slaves at auctions.)
  • Buck was a name for lye, the caustic or alkaline compound used in past forms of laundry for bleaching, or whitening, the wash. Buck-washing was bleaching.
  • An Old English búc, meaning 'torso' 'body' or 'belly', of humans or of other animals, survives as 'the body of a cart or wagon', and gives the compound noun buck-wagon used in historic South Africa for the sort of wagon drawn by oxen. It was also used in the USA.




"Springbucks will run with the white fan on their backs raised, frequently ‘pronking’. [Note] ‘Pronking’, the (Dutch) word used to denote the habit these Antelopes have of leaping to a great height into the air, the attitude..being almost exactly that of a bucking horse" (Zoologist Mar. 107, cited OED, 2021)

Among obsolete meanings, is an aphetic form of buckwheat; a basket used to catch eels, specifically on the Thames;