While the US has different slang terms for its money, “bucks” is the most commonly used word.
So why do we actually call dollars as “bucks?”
Many believed that the use of “buck” refers to a male animal, specifically a male deer or antelope.
In the 18th century, European settlers and native American traded buckskins or deerskins as a form of currency.
According to the Huffington Post, one of the earliest references using the term can be read from a 1748 journal entry of Conrad Weiser of Pennsylvania . He was an interpreter and a diplomat.
In his journal, he described the cask of whiskey as “five bucks,” referring to the deerskin being traded then. He also wrote “a man who was robbed of the value of 300 bucks.”
Bucks became a medium of exchange. However, “bucks” may refer to multiple skins, depending on its quality.
For example, skins from deer killed during winter were considered superior to those killed in the summer, due to the fur being thicker.
Highest quality of skin has a one-to-one value or equaling to one buck. Meanwhile, lower quality skin needs several of them to make up one buck.
The use of skins as a medium of exchange gradually died over the next century. When the Coinage Act of 1792 was introduced, the dollar became the leading medium of exchange.
Nevertheless, “buck” is still used synonymously for dollars.