Friday, March 20, 2015

Just For Fun - Part 1

Americans are great lovers of the euphemism. Especially in the Old West, the average man would rather say someone was “beef plum to the hock” instead of just saying “he’s big and fat.” Here are a few of those old phrases and sayings – just for fun.

Part 1: A-M

About East: about right
Above my bend, above my huckleberry: beyond my capabilities
Acknowledge the corn: to admit the truth and acknowledge the falsehood
Across lots: in the quickest, shortest way, via shortcuts
A-going and a-coming: utterly, all the way, thoroughly
All hands and the cook: the whole outfit, everybody
Anti-godlin: in a sideways, crooked or round about way
Bald-faced shirt, boiled shirt: a white (dress) shirt
Bandbox: a conceited dandy given to big words and showing off his knowledge
Barking at a knot: trying to do the impossible
Billy Hell: a whole lot of hell; really raising Cain
Bugged up: dressed up
Button, doorknob, hen wrangler, pistol, weaner, whistle, yearling, younker: a boy

Chew it finer: say it in simpler terms
Chew the dog: to visit or pass the time of day
Cock-a-doodle-doo: the ranch foreman
Come off the rimrock: to back away from a sensitive conversation and get friendly again
Cupid’s cramps: the ache a cowboy feels when he is in love
Dashboards: a cowboy term for someone else’s big feet (cowboys prided themselves on their small feet.
Dofunny: a doodad or trinket such as a cowboy might carry in his war bag (bag for personal belongings)
Dressed up like a sore toe: dressed up in fancy duds and feeling embarrassingly conspicuous
Excuse me, ma’am: a bump in the road
Feed off your range: to be nosy or inquire inappropriately into someone’s affairs
From who laid the chunk: something terrifically done
Gazook: a gawky, awkward person
Get there with both feet: be very successful
Gravel in his gizzard: a brave man

Hair in the butter: a delicate spot
Haul in your horns: back off or back down
Hobble your lip: shut up
Holler calf-rope: to surrender, acknowledge defeat
Keep that dry: keep it secret
Knock in a cocked hat: to knock out or surprise
Line your flue: to eat
Live dictionary: a schoolmarm
Low-neck clothes: Sunday-go-to-meeting duds
Mail-order cowboy or mail order catalog on foot: an Eastern dude dressed in what he thinks a cowboy wears Out West
Make hair bridles: to spend time in jail (where they did that to pass the time)
Make smoke: to shout
Mossy horn: an old cow with wrinkled horns; an old cowhand

A Dictionary of the Old West, Peter Watts, 1977
Dictionary of the American West, Win Blevins, 1993
J.E.S Hays


  1. What a fun post! I especially like the "live dictionary" one :)

  2. Lot's of new ones here. Thanks! Doris

  3. Love these! Thanks for the post!