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

Though if Swae Lee's Instagram is anything to go by, then cowboys might be the new go-to sartorial spirit guides for rappers. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Swae Lee Goes Full On Hip Hop Cowboy," 4 Dec. 2018 The system has its origins in tradition of the gaucho, the region’s equivalent to the cowboy. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "The Home Grills That Make Every Meal a Commitment," 25 Sep. 2018 The lone cowboy taming the land with lasso and fortitude may fit the myth of the West, but the reality was quite different. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 Rather than focusing on the brave macho cowboys who conquered the frontier, White turns her lens on those that story usually ignores: women and Native Americans. refinery29.com, "Finally, A Western That's Not About A Dude & His Horse," 26 June 2018 At least one American cattle ranch is turning to some 21st century tech to modernize the cowboy's job. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "How Drones Will Revolutionize Ranching," 13 June 2018 All the good cowboys ride the white horses and wear white hats. Alex Fitzpatrick, Time, "Trump Says He Might Pardon Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali. What Did Ali Do?," 8 June 2018 The film melds documentary and fictional elements — the cowboy is portrayed by Brady Jandreau, who in real life suffered the same injuries. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Capsule movie reviews for week of April 29," 26 Apr. 2018 Visit in autumn to witness the annual Buffalo Roundup, where cowboys initiate a stampede to corral the 1,400-pound animals to sort and brand them; or visit year-round to view the bison from the safety of a jeep tour. Tyler Moss, Condé Nast Traveler, "8 Best Places to See Wildlife in the U.S.," 23 Apr. 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

4 Feb 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 \

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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