Entries linking to buckhorn
"male deer," c. 1300, earlier "male goat;" from Old English bucca "male goat," from Proto-Germanic *bukkon (source also of Old Saxon buck, Middle Dutch boc, Dutch bok, Old High German boc, German Bock, Old Norse bokkr), perhaps from a PIE root *bhugo (source also of Avestan buza "buck, goat," Armenian buc "lamb"), but some speculate that it is from a lost pre-Germanic language. Barnhart says Old English buc "male deer," listed in some sources, is a "ghost word or scribal error." The Germanic word (in the sense "he-goat") was borrowed in French as bouc.
The meaning "a man" is from c. 1300 (Old Norse bokki also was used in this sense). Especially "fashionable man" (1725); also used of a male Native American (c. 1800) or Negro (1835). This also is perhaps the sense in army slang buck private "private of the lowest class" (1870s).
The phrase pass the buck is recorded in the literal sense 1865, American English poker slang; the buck in question being originally perhaps a buckhorn-handled knife:
The 'buck' is any inanimate object, usually [a] knife or pencil, which is thrown into a jack pot and temporarily taken by the winner of the pot. Whenever the deal reaches the holder of the 'buck', a new jack pot must be made. [J.W. Keller, "Draw Poker," 1887]
The figurative sense of "shift responsibility" is first recorded 1912; the phrase the buck stops here (1952) is associated with U.S. President Harry Truman.
Old English horn "horn of an animal; projection, pinnacle," also "wind instrument" (originally one made from animal horns), from Proto-Germanic *hurni- (source also of German Horn, Dutch horen, Old Frisian horn, Gothic haurn), from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head."
Late 14c. as "one of the tips of the crescent moon." The name was retained for a class of musical instruments that developed from the hunting horn; the French horn is the true representative of the class. Of dilemmas from 1540s; of automobile warning signals from 1901. Slang meaning "erect penis" is suggested by c. 1600. Jazz slang sense of "trumpet" is by 1921. Meaning "telephone" is by 1945. Figurative senses of Latin cornu included "salient point, chief argument; wing, flank; power, courage, strength." Horn of plenty is from 1580s. To make horns at "hold up the fist with the two exterior fingers extended" as a gesture of insult is from c.1600.
Symbolic of cuckoldry since mid-15c. (the victim was fancied to grow one on his head). The image is widespread in Europe and perhaps as old as ancient Greece. The German linguist Hermann Dunger ('Hörner Aufsetzen' und 'Hahnrei', "Germania" 29, 1884) ascribes it to a custom surviving into 19c., "the old practice of engrafting the spurs of a castrated cock on the root of the excised comb, which caused them to grow like horns" [James Hastings, "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics"] but the image could have grown as well from a general gesture of contempt or insult made to wronged husbands, "who have been the subject of popular jest in all ages" [Hastings].
updated on August 15, 2017