Cowboy Lingo Dictionary


vintage cowboy with very large hat reading the North Pole West Cowboy Lingo dictionary

 When it comes to colorful speech, the cowboy is a master at mixing simple images from nature with their own brand of slang.  This hybrid language is an American classic and probably one of the reasons the cowboy is so warmly regarded as a true western original.
Part of the fun of this language is learning how to speak it for yourself, so 
on the following pages we present a little cowboy dictionary to help you with your western education.
In addition to cowboy lingo we are including other classic old west terms that were used by miners, gamblers, outlaws and lawmen. 

In the making of this fun dictionary it came to my attention that there are a lot of cowboy words for whiskey.  I wonder what this could mean?

 

A-D      E-H      I-L     M-P     Q-T     U-Z
this document has been split up into several pages and will be updated with new words from time to time so be sure and check back.

 

A

Ace in the hole:  a hideout, a hidden gun

Acorn Calf:  a weak runty calf

Adam’s Ale:  water

Afeared:  scared

Afterclaps:   unexpected happenings after an event is supposed to be over.

Air in Lungs:  cussin'

Airin' the Paunch:  vomit, throw-up

All Hands & the Cook: phrase used when there is danger & every man is needed

All Horns and Rattles:  fit of temper

Apple:  saddle horn

Among the willows:  dodging the law

Arkansas toothpick: a large knife 

Auger:   the big boss 

Axle grease: butter

 

B

Backdoor Trots: diarrhea

Bad medicine: bad news

Bait: food 

Bake: to overheat a horse

Baldface Dishes:  china dishes

Ballyhoo:  sales talk, advertising, exaggeration


Bandwagon: peddlers wagon

Banjo :  a miners term for a short-handled shovel

Bar Dog:  a bartender

Barefoot:  an unshod horse

Bark:  to scalp

Barking at a Knot:  trying the impossible

Base Burner:  a drink of whiskey

Bay:  a horse of light red color

Bazoo:  mouth

Bean Master:  a camp cook

Bear Sign:  doughnuts

Bed Ground:  where cattle are held at night

Bed Him Down:  to kill a man

Beef Head: Texan

Beef Tea: shallow water where cows have stood

Belly Cheater:  a cook

Belly Robber:  a cook

Belly Through the Brush:  dodge the law

Belly Wash:  weak coffee

Bending at the Elbow:  drinking whiskey

Bible:  cigarette papers

Big Jump:  death

Big Pasture:  the penitentiary

Big Sugar:  ranch owner

Bill Show: Wild West show

Biscuit:  saddle horn

Biscuit Roller:  a cook

Biscuit Shooter:  a cook or waitress

Bite the Ground:  to be killed

Black-Eyed Susan:  a cowboy's six-gun

Black Snake:  a long whip

Black Spot:  shade

Blind as a snubbing post: undiscerning

Black Water:  coffee

Blue Belly: a Yankee

Blue Lightnin':  a six-gun

Blue Whistler: bullet

Boggy Top:  a pie with no top crust

Boil Over:   a horse that starts bucking

Bone Orchard -  cemetery

Boogered Up - crippled

Boston Dollar -  a penny

Brain Tablet - a cigarette

Breaking the medicine  - overcoming enemy's efforts to harm you.

Broken Wind:  a lung infection in horses

Brown Gargle:  coffee

Bucket of Blood:  a tough saloon

Buffer: traders name for buffalo

Buffaloed:  confused

Bug juice:  whiskey

Bull Nurse:  a cowboy

Bumblebee Whiskey:  whiskey with a sting

Burn the Breeze:  ride at full speed

Burro Milk - nonsense

Buscadero: a gunman

Burn the Breeze: ride full speed

C

Caboodle:   the whole thing

Cahoots:  partnership

Calf slobbers:  meringue

California Collar:  a hangman's noose

California Prayer Book:  a deck of cards

Callin':  courtin'

UnCan Openers:  spurs

Cash in:  to die

Catalog Woman:  mail order bride

Catgut:  a rope

Cat Wagon:  wagon carrying women of less than honorable intentions

Chew Gravel:  thrown from a horse

Choke Strap:  a necktie

Chuck:  food

Chuck Wagon Chicken:  bacon

Clean his Plow:   beat up in a fight

Cold Meat Wagon:  a hearse

Cookie:  camp cook

Corral Dust:  Lies and tall tales

Cottonwood Blossom:  a man lynched from the limb of a tree

Cowboy Cocktail: straight whiskey

Cow Salve:  butter

Crawl his Hump:  to start a fight

Crumb Castle:  chuck wagon

Crumb Incubator:  a cowboy's bed

Curry the Kinks Out:  break a horse

Cut a Rusty:  to go a courtin'

Cut his Suspenders:  a departed cowboy

 

D

Desert Canary:  a burro

Dice House:  bunkhouse

Didn't Have a Tail Feather Left:  broke

Diggers:  spurs

Ditty:  a which I ma call it

Dive:  bunkhouse

Dough-Belly:  cook

Doughgods:  biscuits

Down to the Blanket:  almost broke

Dragging her rope: woman trying to catch a husband

Dream Book:  cigarette papers

Dream Sack: sleeping bag

Dusted:  thrown from a horse