Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 16th, 2014
Episode 7 of 828 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 16, 2014 is: bucket shop \BUK-ut-SHAHP\ noun 1 : a gambling establishment that formerly used market fluctuations (as in commodities) as a basis for gaming 2 : a dishonest brokerage firm Examples: "Today the SEC is able to intervene more quickly to shut down frauds, like boiler rooms or bucket shops pushing bogus stocks." The Orange County Register, October 15, 2001 "As a result, dozens of operations have sprouted up on the Caymans to supply directors, from one-man bucket shops to powerhouse law firms." Azam Ahmed, The New York Times, July 2, 2012 Did you know? In the 1870s, a bucket shop was a lowly saloon that sold beer and other cheap hooch in buckets. How did the term make the jump from watering hole to Wall Street? No one is really sure. Some speculate that it may have been because of the small-time gambling that took place at the original bucket shops, while others claim it derives from the bucket elevator used to transport things between the Chicago Board of Trade and a market for small investors housed directly below it. By the 1880s, bucket shop was being used for pseudo "investment houses" where gamblers bid on the rise and fall of stock prices. These days the term is used for any business that sells cut-price goods, especially airline tickets.