va·​que·​ro vä-ˈker-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce vaquero (audio)
plural vaqueros
: herdsman, cowboy
used in reference to cowboys in areas (such as Mexico and the southwestern U.S.) where Spanish is spoken
Just as they were among the most accomplished of all horsemen, vaqueros were masters of the rope which they called reata.Martin W. Sandler
On the third day the vaqueros brought a small herd of wild three year old colts down from the mesa and penned them …Cormac McCarthy
The study, called "Fajitas South Texas Style," leaves its readers with images of gringo cowboys and Mexican vaqueros eating tough pieces of skirt steak seared directly on the hot coals of their campfires and then wrapped in tortillas.Mary Davis Suro

Examples of vaquero in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web What began as a utilitarian necessity for anyone getting around by horse, the earliest cowboy boots took inspiration from the footwear worn by Spanish vaqueros in the 17th century. Naomi Rougeau, Robb Report, 3 Oct. 2023 Believing Nena dead, Néstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 29 Sep. 2023 The ranches, vaqueros and cowboys, the windbreaks and orchards may no longer exist. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 27 Aug. 2023 Now, Brown-Vazquez, 35, is among a group of millennial activists who are embracing the vaquero lifestyle as a source of identity, and reclaiming it in a way that’s leading people to mobilize and fight the powers of expansion that threaten their agrarian way of life. Alejandra Molina, Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2023 White cowboys herding longhorn cattle and Latino vaqueros with high-stepping Mexican dancing horses lined up to march through town. Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Washington Post, 30 June 2023 The basic design, probably based on Spanish vaquero boots, has been around since the 1800s, and visually at least has changed very little. Bob Beacham, Field & Stream, 21 June 2023 My dad was a vaquero, transporting cattle via horse and sleeping outside, occasionally for days at a time. Eric Arce, Outside Online, 16 Aug. 2021 Gutierrez said that the band laughed at some of the memes that joked that Styles would be listening to the group’s set backstage and dancing along in full vaquero gear. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vaquero.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Spanish — more at buckaroo

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vaquero was in 1826

Dictionary Entries Near vaquero

Cite this Entry

“Vaquero.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


va·​que·​ro vä-ˈke(ə)r-ō How to pronounce vaquero (audio)
plural vaqueros
: cowboy

from Spanish vaquero "cowboy," from vaca "cow," from Latin vacca "cow" — related to buckaroo, vaccine see Word History at vaccine

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