What would a cowboy say?

Im a huge collector of all types of slang and jargon but as a historical writer Im partial to cowboy slang and jargon. Theres a difference between the two. And since the list at th

What would a cowboy say?

Im a huge collector of all types of slang and jargon but as a historical writer Im partial to cowboy slang and jargon. Theres a difference between the two. And since the list at the end of this blog is mainly slang, Id like to explain that difference.
Slang is an informal term not found in an ordinary dictionary, coinages and words changed often times for factious figures of speech.
Jargon is a group of terms exclusive to certain kind of technical terminology. An example might be the technical terms that computer geeks use. Those terms may not be in an ordinary dictionary but every computer geek knows what they mean. Jargon might also be terms or the names that are applied to equipment used in a particular profession.
It is not always wrong to use slang and jargon interchangeably. Sometimes slang is used so much that it earns a definition/place within a set of technical terminology.
When writing about the Old West, cowboy speak adds atmosphere and realism to the story.
As writers we use descriptions to set a scene and build an atmosphere that will pull the reader into our characters reality. Dialogue or the way our characters speak serves as another form of description. The way someone talks says a lot about where hes from, his profession, his education and social hierarchy.
So its important to incorporate appropriate dialogue in our Old West stories. The heros twang, his slang and jargon should shout, COWBOY!
One note of caution here: Never overdue dialect and slang or your characters come off too slapstick matinee. Also be careful dialects; too much is distracting. Use just enough to flavor the story. Also, never trust old west movies as a reference for slang and jargon of the 1800s. Sometimes movies use phrases and terms that either didnt exist at the time or were not yet in common usage. Generally speaking, once a word came into use, it took ten years before it was accepted as common usage.
Cowboy Curses: Yes, cowboys did use the F word but in my research Ive learned that most of their curses took the form of religious blasphemy (hell, dam etc) rather than that of a sexual nature like the F word. Cowboys often competed in cursing contests around campfires but their curses were more outrageous and funny than they were dirty.Examples: My own Aunt Mary! My dead Sisters doll! Little Willys goat! Well, Ill be a . . . (something funny)
Ive compiled a long slang/jargon list with terms from many sources who borrowed from many other sources so theres no real way for me to give credit where its due. However, I have listed some reference links below and Im certain most of the phrases and terms can be found in them.
To save my sanity and yours, Ive corralled mostly slang terms for this list. A (J) after the word means it crosses over into jargon. Most terms and phrases are defined; the rest are obvious. Forgive the curse words, Im just relating the info.
A hog-killin time  a real good timeAce-high  first class, respectedAn invite to a dance  could mean shooting at a mans feet to make him danceAs different as whiskey and teaBad plum  bulletBellerin like a . . .  yelling, howling, complain loudlyBellyaching- complaining (still used today)Belly-up  dead, died; also belly up to the bar (stand up at the bar and drink)Biddy  hen but often used to refer to a nagging or irritating femaleBig bug  the boss, an important personBlue whistler  a bulletBobtail her and fill her with meat  Cut the small talk and get to the pointBold face  whiskey or alcoholBook learninBoot-licker- brown noserBy jingo, youre rightCached up  hidingCaint shoot center  cant shoot straightCalico  a female, a type of print material used in the west for womens everyday dressesCaterwauling  usually terrible singing, or complainingChawed  chewedClean his/your plow  to get or give a thorough wippinClipped his horns  took him down a notch or two; referring to a fight or a braggertCon sarn it  soft replacement for g ** damn it, might be considered dialectCookie  camp cook (J)Coons age  long timeCorncracker  derogatory for farmerCotton to- take a liking toCrowbait derogatory term for a poor-quality horseCultus  despicable, worthless, stupidDad-blame it  G** damn itDang!  DamnDicker  barter, tradeDipping  chewing snuffDug for his cannon  reached for his gunFandango  from Spanish, used for a big party with lots of dancingFit to be tied  angryFixen  intendingFly at it  cook says this when his food is ready (have seen it used to mean fight!)Full as a tick  drunk or over eatingGet a wiggle on  hurryGo to blazes  go to hellGol-Darn  softer version of obvious blasphemyGoner  lost, deadGray backs  lice (J)Hang fire  delay, lets hang fire before we make up our mindsHang it all  who caresHanker or hankering  strong wish or wantHaulloa stranger  yelled when approaching a strange camp to avoid getting shotHazing a tenderfoot  giving a city man a hard timeHeeled  armed with a gun (used more by city slickers)Hellbenders  drunken spreesHell fire  exclamation of irritation, a curseHesh up  hush upHighflautin  fancy, stuck up, snootyHill of beans  of trifling value, aint worth a hill of beansHis look would pucker a hogs buttHoppin madHorse feathers  exclamation meaning ridiculous or lack of beliefHowdy pard!I can set with that  I can agree with that, I can handle thatI reckon  I suppose, I believeIfin  ifInfernal  awful (meaning from hell) Infernal weather, infernal manJamboree  any kind of party or celebrationJawin me ta death  talking too muchLambasted  to hit or slugLead plum  bulletLeaky mouths  talks too much, gossipLickspittle  insult, a very low person, dishonest, no goodLight a shuck  to get the heck out of here, lets light a shuckLight and set a while  climb off horse and stay a whileLoco son-of-a-bitch - crazyLowdown, dirty sneaking polecatsMean as catmeatMeat and tataMontana feathers  hay used to stuff mattresses on early ranchesMontgomery Ward Woman  a very ugly womanMoppin his plate  licking it clean, eating everythingNary neverOne horse townOrnery as a mama bear with a sore teatPacking  armedPlanted him neath the daisiesPlumb  meaning completely or totally. ( plumb tuckered out, plumb loco)Prairie coal  dried cow manure, used to build fires (J)Pretty as a little red heiferPshaw, taint no trouble tall  heck it wasnt any troublePurely purdy purely prettyRaise hob  raise hell as in going to town to raise hellRandy - wantonRed skins got his har  Indians scalped him; dialectRode slick  said of a top rider who eschews all devices to help keep him in saddleSad as a tick-fevered pupSam hill  what the Sam hill? or what the devil?Scalawags  thieves, con men, bad menShe stock  generic for female cattle regardless of age (J)Shes aimin to hogtie and brand him  she aims to marry himShooting iron, six shooter  gun, pistolShuck  remove guns but could mean to remove clothesSkeerd scared; dilectSkin yourselves  remove your gunsSlick heels  without spurs (J)Sorta nice, aint it?Soured my milk  made me irritatedSowbelly  bacon (J)Stretched hemp  someone who has been hung with a ropeThat dont/wont wash  sounds wrong, makes no senseThat shines!  swell, really greatThunderation  non-profane curseTime to cut and run  cut your losses and get the hell outTromp his britches  beat him upUnreliable as womans watch  because women are always lateUseless as a bull with titsVamose or Vamoose  go, leave, disappearVarmint or Varment  wild animal or a bad manViands  food, mealsVittles  foodWanna snort?  What a drinkWhoo-up whoo-up  same as Haulloa stranger but from a greater distanceWhup  whipWill die standin up  braveWobblin jaw  talks to muchYaller yellow, coward; dialectYarn the hours away  tell storiesYellow belly  cowardYonder  over thereYounder, a pieceYou can slide, mister  you can go to hellYourn  yoursYup  yes
Cowboy Slang and Jargon Books
Cowboy Slang by Edgar R. Frosty Potter: Potters books also have info on horses, brands, cattle etc. [one of my all time favorites]Cowboys Talk Right Purty by Edgar Frosty Potter: Similar to Cowboy Slang, it has less slang but lots of invaluable info on rustling, horses, cattle, equipmentA Dictionary of The Old West by Peter Watts: You name it, this books defines it. Contains lots of terms/jargon and definitions of equipment etc.Dictionary of the American West by Winfred Blevins: Similar to A Dictionary of The Old West yet different and valuable on its own.Wonderous Times On The Frontier by Dee Brown: If you write Old West, this book is a must. This is more of a history of adventures of real people but Brown uses the language of the times. He demonstrates just how much the cowboy loved a good joke but also tells the serious stuff. Mine is highlighted all over the place! Worth every penny.
Cowboy Slang and Jargon On Line
Western Slang and Phrases  Youll see a few of these on my list. Be careful to check the origin date of some of the terms. Some look like they originated at the turn of the century rather than the 1800s and some are general slang terms used by everyone, not just men of the west. Still, this a good resource.Gone To TexasCool Western Slang : Some of these sights borrowed from each other but I noticed each has a few of their own too. Cowboy Quotes and SayingsCowboy Way
As Roy Rodgers always said -- Happy Trails.

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