pass the buck

Idioms & Phrases

pass the buck

Shift responsibility or blame elsewhere, as in She's always passing the buck to her staff; it's time she accepted the blame herself. This expression dates from the mid-1800s, when in a poker game a piece of buckshot or another object was passed around to remind a player that he was the next dealer. It acquired its present meaning by about 1900.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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