After a recent scam, at a parliament meeting, a minister said "buck stops here". What was this minister saying? Was he assuming responsibility, or did he mean something else?

  • 3
    It means "don't pass the buck" where "buck" means the "responsibility" in the context. In other words, the phrase means "make no excuses" and "take responsibility". See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_passing. Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:09
  • The minister wants to keep all the money (bucks) from the scam. :P
    – Masked Man
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:26
  • @Happy Now I understand why you go by the name "Happy". :D Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:30
  • @Happy Nice :D ha ha Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:40
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    As a side note on this matter: In Poker the dealer button is also called "buck". That's where this meaning originates.
    – Em1
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


The buck stops here (idiomatic) A statement that no excuses will be made, that the speaker is going to take direct responsibility for matters, rather than pass the responsibility to higher authorities.

Usage example -

the situation say that although the committee is unlikely to accuse Mr Murdoch of deliberately misleading them, they will surely raise concerns about the fact that Mr Murdoch did not appear to check the key email sent to him in 2008 by two senior executives at News International regarding phone hacking allegations. Mr Murdoch said he did not read the email because he was " alone with his children " and therefore too busy. This has the faint whiff of the " dog ate my homework " defence. Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk: " The buck stops here ". Mr Murdoch should consider where ultimately the buck stopped at News International. As he considers what to do, I think Mr Murdoch is maybe confusing two things. One is the truth, or otherwise, of the allegations against him. The second is whether he should stay as chairman of BSkyB. Excluding votes cast by News Corporation, only 55pc of the independent shareholders backed Mr Murdoch as BSkyB chairman at the annual general meeting last November. As one of the shareholders that


In older times playing poker the dealer would have a buck knife and would be held responsible for the fairness of the game.if you didn't want to be the dealer you would pass the buck


It means that the speaker is taking responsibility for this.

A "buck" is slang term for a United States Dollar $. If somebody has a bad dollar, one which won't work in a machine for example or one which is forged, it is common practice to pass that bad dollar onto somebody else. That buck is rapidly and repeatedly passed on to some other unsuspecting person, until eventually somebody absorbs the cost themselves and does not pass the buck along to the next person.

An similar expression is "a bad penny", which refers to a bad coin of small denomination.

When somebody uses the expression, "The buck stops here." it means that the speaker will take final responsibility for whatever is at stake. The speaker intends that they will be the one ultimately to be held responsible.

  • Do you have a source to back up the claim that it refers to a bad dollar? Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 11:11

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