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, 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

One was a construction worker, another an Indian, others a cowboy, a soldier and a biker. Johnny Miller, SFChronicle.com, "Iwo Jima bids adieu to U.S. flag," 20 June 2018 The late Casey Tibbs was a cowboy, nine-time world-champion rodeo performer and actor who was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1979 and lived in Ramona until his death in 1990. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Murals come a long way under Elaine Lyttleton's watch," 1 June 2018 Valley Center’s Stampede Rodeo & Festival celebrates its patriotism and Western heritage with cowgirls and cowboys competing in races with broncs, bulls, mutton busting, junior barrel racing, a wild donkey race and a calf scramble. Lisa Deaderick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Top weekend events: San Diego Comedy Festival, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Fiesta Botanica," 25 May 2018 In the role of jaunty cowboys, Sisson, Fowler and Irvathraya are joined by Rachel Allen, Asa Jackson, Izzy Vicente, Julianne Good, Mary Ehrbar, Isabella Carvalho, Minhyeok Chang and Christy Park. Courant Community, "Community News For The Valley Edition," 24 Apr. 2018 The white-haired cowboy removes his hat, hikes up his Wranglers, scissors over one iron bar, and ducks under the next. Lauren Etter, Bloomberg.com, "America’s Virtual Border Wall Is a 1,954-Mile-Long Money Pit," 9 Apr. 2018 Even riskier is not expressing one's inner debonair cowboy. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "The 15 Best New Menswear Items to Buy This Week," 23 Feb. 2018 On Thursday the board of trustees voted unanimously to keep the cowboy slogan. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Higher Ed Needs More Cowboys," 12 July 2018 The show not only features a spinster schoolteacher but also plenty of personalities including an inept detective, a stingy restaurant owner, a spoiled niece and a doting cowboy suitor. Jessi Virtusio, Daily Southtown, "Audience assists in solving ‘Touchtone 'M' for Murder’ mystery in Orland Park," 6 July 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

16 Sep 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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