Bang for the buck
Bang for the buck is an idiom meaning the worth of one's money or exertion. The phrase originated from the slang usage of the words "bang" which means "excitement" and "buck" which means "money". Variations of the term include "bang for your buck," "bang for one's buck," "more bang for the buck," "bigger bang for the buck," and mixings of these. "More bang for the buck" was preceded by "more bounce to the ounce", an advertising slogan used in 1950 to market the carbonated soft drink Pepsi.
The phrase "bigger bang for the buck" was notably used by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense, Charles Erwin Wilson, in 1954. He used it to describe the New Look policy of depending on nuclear weapons, rather than a large regular army, to keep the Soviet Union in check. Today, the phrase is used to mean a greater worth for the money used.
!4$ is sometimes used as a shorthand version.
History and usage
William Safire discussed "bang for the buck" in his 1968 book, New Language of Politics. Safire stated that U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson used the phrase in 1954 to summarize the New Look policy. The New Look, a 1950s national security policy during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was called "more bang for the buck" and "bigger bang for the buck". "More bang for the buck" was also used in the late 1960s by the U.S. military to refer to how it wanted to receive more combat power from the armaments it possessed. The United States, instead of supporting a large regular army, increasingly depended on nuclear weapons to hold the Soviet Union in check.
Sometimes the phrase is used to mean "a better value for the money spent".
The word "bang" is slang for "sexual intercourse". Hence the phrase "bang for the buck" has the slang meaning of "sexual intercourse for money". As a result, the use of this phrase, including a variety of adjectives preceding the word bang, to supposedly describe a subsequent action, has been deemed extremely offensive by some. This interpretation led to a formal request made to the educational arm of a major IT corporation to not have any of their instructors use this phrase.
In 2001, author Matthew L. Stone wrote that the phrase "has been overused almost to the point of becoming meaningless". In her 2010 book The Trouble with Thinking, Lauren Powers wrote that whenever she hears the cliché "bigger bang for the buck", she becomes "distracted" by the phrase's history and cannot continue paying attention to the speaker's words.
- Heacock 2003, p. 19
- "The Mavens' Word of the Day: bang for the buck". Random House. 1997-12-19. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- Mayer 2010, p. xxiv
- Pavelec 2009, p. 325
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- Feldman 1989, p. 199
- Kort 2001, p. 39
- Ammer 2006, p. 34
- "Case Study – Pepsico: Cola gets a pep talk". LexisNexis. 2007-04-16. Archived from the original on 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2010-12-08.
- Powers 2010, p. 135
- Stone 2001, p. 54
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