cowboy

noun
cow·​boy | \ˈkau̇-ˌbȯi \

Definition of cowboy 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who tends cattle or horses especially : a usually mounted cattle-ranch hand

2 : a rodeo performer

3 : one having qualities (such as recklessness, aggressiveness, or independence) popularly associated with cowboys: such as

a : a reckless driver

b : a business or businessperson operating in an uncontrolled or unregulated manner

cowboy

verb
cowboyed; cowboying; cowboys

Definition of cowboy (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to work as a cowboy cowboyed in Texas and Oklahoma

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Synonyms for cowboy

Synonyms: Noun

buckaroo (also buckeroo), cowhand, cowman, cowpoke, cowpuncher, waddy (or waddie) [West], wrangler

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Did You Know?

In the American West, a horseman skilled at handling cattle is called a cowboy. From ca.1820, cowboys were employed in small numbers on Texas ranches. After the Civil War, their numbers rapidly multiplied as cattle-raising evolved into a lucrative industry throughout the western territories. Cowboys rounded up and branded the cattle, kept watch over the herd, and drove those ready for market to railroad towns. As the agricultural frontier moved west, the open range was transformed into farms, and by 1890 cowboys had been forced to settle on ranches. The romance of their image lives on in American folklore and through movies and television.

Examples of cowboy in a Sentence

Noun

a movie about cowboys in the old West He worked for several years as a cowboy on a ranch in Texas. We've got a bunch of risk-taking cowboys running this project.

Verb

He cowboyed in Texas and Oklahoma.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Next week brings us to 1910s New York City, where hopefully for Rufus, there will be no cowboys. Rachel Kaufman, Smithsonian, "Somebody’s Got a Case of the Blues: Timeless Season 2, Episode 6, Recapped," 23 Apr. 2018 Amidst a week of schedules and appointments, just for a night, a furniture designer was a rock star, editors resembled demolition crews, Italian heiresses could be cowboys—everyone could be anyone. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Yoox, Toiletpaper, and Wallpaper* Host a Garage-Cowboy Disco to Close Out Salone del Mobile," 20 Apr. 2018 Lee, helping his father deliver a calf out on the range, is too much cowboy, too little rancher. Ellen Gray, Philly.com, "With Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone,' Paramount Network finds home on the range," 15 June 2018 There was a cowboy, followed by a guy doing a Bob Dylan impersonation, then a girl doing spoken word, then a comedian who was a homeless guy. Emma Silvers, SFChronicle.com, "Hotel Utah is not your average open-mic night bar," 5 June 2018 Westworld offers trading outposts, farmsteads and wide open plains populated by robot cowboys, saloon girls and the Ghost Nation Tribe. Lynda Clark, Smithsonian, "How Charles Dickens Imagined a Westworld-like Robot Theme Park Back In 1838," 21 Apr. 2018 The seats are strapped onto poles running between the cabin floor and ceiling, meaning passengers are essentially riding the seat like a cowboy on horseback—hence the name. Erin Florio, Condé Nast Traveler, "The New Skyrider Airline Seats Will Have You Standing, Not Sitting, on Your Next Flight," 17 Apr. 2018 About the only variety in mainstream country music today comes from whether the singer favors a cowboy or trucker hat. Jack Dickey, SI.com, "How Charley Pride Went From Negro League Ballplayer to Country Music's Jackie Robinson," 21 Mar. 2018 This Paris Fashion Week, her Fall 2018 collection was inspired by Argentinian cowboys, with her signature ruffled blouses and dresses as well as coats, for the very first time. Kristen Bateman, Vogue, "Where Johanna Ortiz Finds Design Inspiration in Paris," 5 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sam Hunt cowboys up Sam Hunt brought the party with him Friday night. Cindy Watts And Adam Tamburin, USA TODAY, "Friday at CMA Music Festival: Blake Shelton, Kelsea Ballerini," 10 June 2017 Sam Hunt cowboys up Sam Hunt brought the party with him Friday night. Cindy Watts And Adam Tamburin, USA TODAY, "Friday at CMA Music Festival: Blake Shelton, Kelsea Ballerini," 10 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cowboy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cowboy

Noun

1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1925, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for cowboy

Last Updated

28 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cowboy

The first known use of cowboy was in 1623

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More Definitions for cowboy

cowboy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of cowboy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a man who rides a horse and whose job is to take care of cows or horses especially in the western U.S.

: a man who performs in a rodeo

: someone who has qualities that are commonly associated with the cowboys in movies; especially : someone who does things that other people consider foolish and dangerous

cowboy

verb

English Language Learners Definition of cowboy (Entry 2 of 2)

: to work as a cowboy

cowboy

noun
cow·​boy | \ˈkau̇-ˌbȯi \

Kids Definition of cowboy

: a man or boy who works on a ranch or performs at a rodeo

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Comments on cowboy

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