Definition of bunco in English:


(also bunko)

Pronunciation /ˈbəNGkō/ /ˈbəŋkoʊ/

See synonyms for bunco on


informal North American usually as modifier
  • A swindle or confidence trick.

    • ‘a bunco artist’
    • ‘he was out to make a buck using fraud or bunco’
    • ‘Specially after I poked around and learned the Madame's qualifications for horoscope-readings consist of 19 convictions for fraud, bunco scams, and operating illegal ‘games of chance’ in Atlantic City.’
    • ‘But it's not just bunco artists who are suffering from this tightening of the purse strings.’
    • ‘Because the producers hired police bunco squad members as consultants, the movie shows us all the nuts and bolts of the sorts of scams that can be run in a tent-revival format.’
    sham, fraud, pretence, imposture, hoax, fake, misrepresentation, blind, wile, artifice, Trojan horse

transitive verbbuncoes, buncoing, buncoed

[with object]dated, informal North American
  • Swindle or cheat.

    • ‘he didn't propose to be buncoed without a fight’
    • ‘The St. Regis tribe of Indians of Franklin County claim that they were buncoed by the last legislature, and are so incensed that an outbreak at the reservation is feared.’
    • ‘I never mingle with the crowds that are being buncoed [sic] in the big department stores of Los Angeles.’
    • ‘I just can't stay in the room and see you buncoed that way.’
    • ‘Not until then did it begin to be clear to me that the great mass of people gathered at Whatcom, as well as myself had been buncoed.’
    • ‘In America he is so busy that when he gets abroad he does not know what to do with his time, and in consequence can be easily buncoed.’
    • ‘The profiteers are very resourceful in buncoing Mr. Block.’
    • ‘I then buncoed the engineer of an English tramp steamer into selling me a 25-pound chunk of imported metal made by Mr. Babbitt himself and stamped with his name and coat of arms - but that lot didn't last long and I couldn't get any more of it.’
    • ‘They were not buncoed, and that water power would be worth many times what the investment was.’
    • ‘‘Hyperbole aside,’ says I, ‘do you know of any immediate system of buncoing the community out of a dollar or two except by applying to the Salvation Army or having a fit on Miss Helen Gould's doorsteps?’’
    • ‘The conduct of Mr. Springborn's department was always a matter of pride with the administration, and great was the consternation of his friends when the newspapers told a story one morning of how Mr. Springborn had been buncoed.’
    • ‘After the expenditure of the enormous sum of five hundred dollars (and we think the present day graduate who spent ten thousand dollars for a no better education has been badly buncoed), and twelve months of our valuable time, on March 25th 1885, we were turned loose on an unsuspecting public, a full fledged obstetrician.’
    deceive, trick, dupe, outwit, fool, delude, cheat, take in, bluff, hoax, mislead, misguide, lead on, defraud, double-cross, swindle, gull, finagle, get the better of


Late 19th century perhaps from Spanish banca, the name of a card game.