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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for cowboy

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There’s a lot of dry land between one decoy set and the other, which requires a lot of time behind the windshield—and a lot of miles and hours to muse on where the ducks might be out here in cowboy-and-alien country. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "A D.I.Y. Duck Hunt on Public Land in New Mexico," 10 Mar. 2020 Professional rodeo athletes and the amateur cowboys and cowgirls who qualified in the semifinals will compete in events such as team roping, barrel racing and bull riding for a $2.35 million purse — one of the biggest payouts in rodeo. Shannon Sutlief, Dallas News, "9 fun things to do the week of March 6-12 in Dallas-Fort Worth," 4 Mar. 2020 LaTray’s great-grandfather, Mose LaTreille, was a cowboy of French and Native American heritage who came with the cattle to northern Montana in the 1870s. National Geographic, "Two visions collide amid push to restore Montana plains," 16 Jan. 2020 Maybe Harry’s days of being a cowboy and a soldier are over. Nicole Clausing, Sunset Magazine, "Fit for a Prince: Where in the West Should Meghan and Harry Move?," 16 Jan. 2020 But this space that normally was just like, cowboys and Indians and white men riding around on horses. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Books We Read Last Year: Women Who Travel Podcast," 14 Jan. 2020 That dispute, in which Holliday and three other lawmen looked to disarm a group of cowboys by the OK Corral, ended badly. USA TODAY, "Tombstone gunfight, sparkler spoiler, no superbloom: News from around our 50 states," 18 Feb. 2020 Mircle and Michael Sanders, who were twins, were rodeo cowboys who would often wake their young nephew by blowing a horn at dawn to trek to events. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "Little big man: 49ers’ Emmanuel Sanders has toughness to match talent," 9 Nov. 2019 One of the original cocaine cowboys arrested by US Marshals in SW Miami-Dade. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "This time it took a K-9, not 134 shots from deputies, to bring down a cocaine cowboy," 13 Jan. 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.

See More

First Known Use of cowboy

Noun

1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1925, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cowboy

Time Traveler for cowboy

Time Traveler

The first known use of cowboy was in 1623

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cowboy

Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Cowboy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cowboy. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cowboy

cowboy

noun
How to pronounce cowboy (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on cowboy

What made you want to look up cowboy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

March 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • field of crocuses
  • Which is a synonym of rectitudinous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!