A bigger bang for the buck

Posted by ESC on November 05, 2002

In Reply to: Bang for the Buck origin posted by masakim on November 05, 2002

: : : Thanks in advance for your help determining the origin for the phrase, 'Bang for the Buck'. One explanation is that it developed from the military as a phrase for exlaining relative value i.e. The missile carrier has more BFTB an a tank. However, to me this explains the usage of the phrase, not it's actual origin.

: : : Another source suggested the phrase relates to the slave trade in referring to the reproductive value of a male slave, otherwise known as a buck. This possible explanation could be considered offensive. For that reason, I've asked colleagues to refrain from using it. Hopefully someone can offer some substantive evidence about its derivation. Many thanks,

: : : Dina

: : That's nuts!
: : I don't think the phrase has any racial overtones at all.
: : A buck is slang for a US dollar.
: : So the phrase means that since cleaning product A is more concentrated and stronger than cleaning product B and they are priced the same then product A is known to have "more bang for the buck".

: The phrase, which means 'value for one's money', was originally a political one. Its first use was quite literal: With *bang* referring to 'firepower' or 'weaponry', it really did mean 'bombs for one's money'. The alliteration of *bang* and *buck* helps to make the phrase memorable.
: The earliest confirmed mention of *bang for the buck* is found in 1968 in the first edition of William Safire's *New Language of Politics*. Mr. Safire claims that the phrase was coined in 1954 by Charles E. Wilson, the Secretary of Defense, in reference to the "massive retaliation" policy of John Foster Dulles.
: While *bang* has been used in sexual senses since the seventeenth century, it is unrelated to our phrase. However, since people are always eager to give things sexual connotations whether or not they are called for, some prudence would be a good idea.
: From The Mavens' Word of the Day (Decwmber 19, 1997) @
: ----------
: John Foster Dulles laid the policy of "massive retaliation" ... in 1954 and told the Council on Foreign Relations ... "it is now possible to get, and share, more basic security and less cost." Defense Security Charles E. Wilson promptly dubbed the policy the "New Look" ... and said it would provide a "bigger bank for a buck." (Safire, _New Language of Politics_, 1968)

A BIGGER BANG FOR THE BUCK - "A better value for one's money. This term dates from 1954, when it specifically meant more efficient use of defense appropriations, relying mainly on nuclear deterrents. The 'bang' here alludes to a nuclear explosion. It was U.S. Defense Secretary Charles E. Wilson who said this new policy would provide 'a bigger bang for the buck.' The phrase subsequently was applied to civilian issues involving a better value. It echoes an older advertising slogan for a carbonated soft drink, 'More bounce to the ounce.'" From "Fighting Words: From War, Rebellion, and other Combative Capers" by Christine Ammer (NTC Publishing Group, Chicago, Ill., 1989, 1999).