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March 31, 2006, 4:14 pm
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The phrase bang for the (or one's) buck may be cringeworthy, but not because of
any vulgar origins, but rather because the idea of blowing up the world in an
economical manner can bother some people.
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.
Is there a new 'bang for the buck' like the 2500+ used to be?
Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder