Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A fraudulent brokerage operation in which orders to buy and sell are accepted but no executions take place. Instead, the operators expect to profit when customers close out their positions at a loss.
  • n. A business, such as a travel agency, that buys unsold tickets and resells them at a discount.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A stockbroking firm which takes small orders from clients and takes them on its own account rather than actually transmitting them to the market. Prevalent in the US 1870s to 1920s; often setup as shop-fronts in the 1920s.
  • n. A stockbroking firm which sells stock to clients when it has an undisclosed relationship with that company or its owners.
  • n. a travel agency selling discounted airfares, usually in defiance of existing minimum fare arrangements. Now usually refers to any small cheap agency.
  • n. a legal services firm selling heavily discounted legal services and documents made in large volume from boilerplate text and clauses, sometimes as a white labelled loss leader

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • An office or a place where facilities are given for betting small sums on current prices of stocks, petroleum, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An establishment conducted nominally for the transaction of a stock-exchange business, or a business of similar character, but really for the registration of bets or wagers, usually for small amounts, on the rise or fall of the prices of stocks, grain, oil, etc., there being no transfer or delivery of the stocks or commodities nominally dealt in.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an unethical or overly aggressive brokerage firm
  • n. (formerly) a cheap saloon selling liquor by the bucket

Etymologies

From bucket shop, a saloon selling small amounts of liquor in buckets, from its resemblance to the forerunner of such brokerage operations, which dealt in small units of stocks and commodities.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
bucket + shop (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Slate: 'Lots of schemes are stock-market specific. There's the pump and dump, in which the perpetrator boosts the price of a stock through false or exaggerated statements, then sells his position at an artificially inflated level. And front-running, in which a broker buys himself shares of a stock right before his brokerage buys a much larger block of shares (or recommends the stock as a good prospect). In the jitney game, brokers trade a stock back and forth to give the impression that it's a hot commodity. Bucket shop is a common term for a brokerage that defrauds its customers, usually by selling worthless or highly speculative stocks that it wants to offload.'

    December 19, 2008