cowboy

noun
cow·​boy | \ ˈkau̇-ˌbȯi How to pronounce cowboy (audio) \

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

Each year thousands of people gather at Fair Park in Dallas to see the iconic 55-foot cowboy known as Big Tex and experience days of food, fun, and free concerts. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Texas State Fair announces star-studded 2018 lineup," 5 June 2018 The newspaper identified the cowboy as Tim McGinty and the firefighter as Andrew Needum. Jason Laughlin, Philly.com, "Southwest flight 1380: The latest on the engine explosion that killed one," 18 Apr. 2018 Every rodeo event has an entry fee, paid by the cowboys. Melissa Lyttle, Smithsonian, "The First Family of Rodeo," 13 Dec. 2017 Watching a beleaguered Trump appointee struggle to hang on to his job can feel like watching a tipsy cowboy on a bucking mechanical bull. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "McMaster and Commander," 23 Apr. 2018 Recio’s painting is based off a cowboy who spends his mornings peacefully feeding his horses. Autumn Rendall, Houston Chronicle, "RODEO ART AUCTION.," 11 Mar. 2018 There, a cowboy named Kaluaikoolau, or Ko’olau, shot the sheriff twice with a rifle, killing him, and became a hero of the native resistance. Brendan Borrell, Smithsonian, "Hawaii’s Last Outlaw Hippies," 28 Feb. 2018 And its timelessness is borne out by shows that take place in the 1880s, the present day, and some point in the distant future where android cowboys are indistinguishable from true grit. Scott Tobias, BostonGlobe.com, "How TV has brought the western into the 21st century," 5 July 2018 Neither cowboy made it to 8 seconds in the ride-off. Jason Mcdaniel, Houston Chronicle, "Cody DeMoss wins second straight saddle bronc title at RodeoHouston," 17 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

18 Mar 2019

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
usually disapproving : 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)

US : to work as a cowboy

cowboy

noun
cow·​boy | \ ˈkau̇-ˌbȯi How to pronounce cowboy (audio) \

Kids Definition of cowboy

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on cowboy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cowboy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cowboy

Spanish Central: Translation of cowboy

Nglish: Translation of cowboy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cowboy for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about cowboy

Comments on cowboy

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