Talk Like a Cowboy

Talk Like a Cowboy

Posted by Green Mountain Horse & Tack on 29th May 2022

Every generation has phrases, quips, sayings and slang that somehow seems perfect for the times.  The Old West is no different - they had a whole bunch of phrases that were common among cowboy and cowgirls. Some of these phrases lasted longer than others, but they're all part of the culture of the Old West that we love, so we thought we'd share some of them with you.  Enjoy!


1. Above Snakes- Being above ground; alive.
2. Ace-high- High class; upscale
3. Ace in the Hole- A hideout; safe house, or a concealed gun.
4. Acknowledge the Corn- To confess the truth
5. A Hog-Killin’ Time- Having a really fun time
6. Adam’s Ale- Water
7. Airin’ the Lungs- To use profanity; cursing
8. A Lick and a Promise- To do something haphazardly or half-assed.
9. All Down But Nine- Failure to understand something. It comes from a bowling reference which means someone has missed all nine bowling pins.
10. At Sea- Being lost or confused.
11. Bad Box- To be caught in a bad situation.
12. Bad Egg- A mean or untrustworthy person.
13. Bad Hoss- A wild or misbehaved horse.
14. Bag of Nails- Chaos; confusion.
15. Baker’s Dozen- Reference to the number thirteen.
16. Bake- An overheated horse that has been ridden too hard, long, or fast.
17. Balderdash- Senseless; foolish.
18. Bangtail- Mustang; untamed horse.
19. Barn Sour- Reference to a horse that loves being in the barn, or is a homebody.
20. Bazoo- A mouth.
21. Bee In Your Bonnet- A good idea.
22. Best Bib and Tucker- Nice clothes.
23. Boil Over- Reference to a bucking horse.
24. Bone Orchard- A graveyard or cemetery.
25. Broom-Tail- Reference to a badly behaved or unattractive horse.
26. Busted Off- To get bucked off a horse.
27. Calamity Jane- Reference to the Queen of Spades card.
28. Calf Slobbers- Meringue pie topping.
29. Crackerbox- Reference to a bronc saddle used in rodeo competitions.
30. Crack-Up- To gloat or brag.
31. Crash- Coarse linen fabric.
32. Crawl His Hump- To pick a fight.
33. Crimany- Making a surprised exclamation.
34. Caterwauling- Bad singing or to complain.
35. Chew Gravel- To be thrown off a horse.
36. Chiseler- A swindler or conman.
37. Choke Strap- A man’s necktie.
38. Coffee Boiler- A lazy person.
39. Crowbait- Reference to a low-quality horse.
40. Desert Canary- A donkey.
41. Deuce- Alternative expression for the devil.
42. Dice House- Bunkhouse; sleeping quarters.
43. Dickens- Another alternative expression for the devil.
44. Eatin’ Irons- Flatware; eating utensils.
45. Fair to Middlin’- To feel pretty good; to be in a good mood.
46. Fair Shake- To make a fair trade.
47. Fit to Be Tied- To be mad or angry.
48. Flannel Mouth- A smooth talker.
49. Full As A Tick- To be drunk or full from eating too much.
50. Gig- To put spurs on a horse.
51. Ginnin’ About- To move around fast.
52. Gitty-Up- Command used to get a horse moving; to get up and go.
53. Give Him Jessy- To give a whipping or spanking.
54. Give The Mitten- When a woman rejects a man.
55. Get A Wiggle On- To hurry.
56. Hair In The Butter- To be stuck in a tricky situation.
57. Hang Fire- To procrastinate or delay.
58. Hazing A Tenderfoot- To give a person from the city a hard time.
59. Hen Skin- A bedroll or sleeping bag.
60. Hide- To get spanked or beaten.
61. Hifer- Someone that loiters or loafs around.
62. Higgle- To haggle or bargain.
63. Hoosegow- jail; the penitentiary.
64. I Can Set With That- To be in agreeance with someone.
65. In Apple Pie Order- To be in top shape or high quality.
66. Indian Broke- Reference to a horse that was trained to be mounted from the right side instead of the left side.
67. Lambasting- To receive a thrashing or beating.
68. Lammy- Reference to a blanket.
69. Light A Shuck- To leave or escape somewhere fast.
70. Made His Jack- He hit his target.
71. Nailed To The Counter- When you catch someone in a lie.
72. Namby-Pamby- Someone that lacks strength and energy.
73. Odd Stick- A weird person.
74. Off One’s Feed- Not being able to eat; not having an appetite.
75. Of The First Water- Elegant; first-class.
76. Owl Headed- Reference to a horse that keeps looking around everywhere.
77. Plumb- Being complete, whole, or entirely something.
78. Prairie Coal- Dehydrated cow feces that are used to make fires.
79. Pull In Your Horns- A warning to stop and back off.
80. Quirley- A hand-rolled cigarette.
81. Rocky Mountain Canary- Donkey used by Rocky Mountain miners.
82. Roostered- To be or to get drunk.
83. Scratching Rake- A hair comb.
84. Shooting Iron- a handgun.
85. Simon Pure- certain; fact.
86. Squinny- To make someone wink, laugh, or smile.
87. Taradiddles- Lies, myths, or tall tales.
88. Ten-Cent Man- A short-sighted or narrow-minded man.
89. That Dog Won’t Hunt- That argument or idea won’t work or come to fruition.
90. Thunderation- To curse and use profanity.
91. Too Much Mustard- Someone who is boasting or bragging too much.
92. Uncorkin’ A Bronc- To break in a wild horse.
93. Varmint- A bad man or wild animal.
94. Waddie- Hired farmhand that tends cattle.
95. Wanna Snort?- An alternative way to ask someone for a drink.
96. Wild West Weekly- Series of cheap paperbound novels about various western adventures.
97. Will Die Standin’ Up- To be or act brave.
98. Wobblin’ Jaw- When someone talks or is talking too much.
99. Yarn The Hours Away- To tell long stories.
100. Yellow Belly- A person who lacks courage; a coward.