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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for cowboy

Synonyms: Noun

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

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

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 While there were no official barriers in place, rodeo cowboys were almost exclusively Texan. Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-News, "The non-Texan professional cowboy is a thing," 11 Feb. 2018 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

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

Statistics for cowboy

Last Updated

18 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cowboy

The first known use of cowboy was in 1623

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!