Cowboy lingo can be defined as: speech, idiom, vernacular, jargon, argot, patois — the list could go on and on. Here’s a few examples of colloquial cowboy speech that admires, insults, describes or confuses — often in the same statement — mostly culled from “Wayne Erbsen’s Cowboy Songs, Jokes, Lingo ‘n Lore.”
If you want to insult someone who walks through life like a retarded turtle, you might say: He couldn’t track a wagon through a bog hole. (Reminds me that one shouldn’t expect a turkey to gobble in Latin).
If you want to describe an unattractive individual, you might say: He’s as ugly as a burnt boot. (Reminds me I need new boots).
If you want to refer to someone who is allergic to work, you might say: He’s so lazy, molasses wouldn’t run down his legs. (Reminds me of barstool cowboys).
You might want to characterize a fatso by saying: He’s so fat, you’d have to throw a diamond hitch to keep him in the saddle. (Reminds me to eat salad for lunch).
If you want to slam a homely woman (this one’s kinda cruel): She’s so ugly, she could back a buzzard off a gut wagon. (Reminds me not to feel sorry for myself).
If you know someone who can’t find his own elbow, you might say: He couldn’t hit the ground with his hat in three throws. (Reminds me of a dude hunter who shot a cow thinking it was a moose).
If you want to refer to a mentally challenged goof ball, you might say: He’s as crazy as popcorn on a hot stove. (Fill in your own favorite acquaintance here).
Or if the mentally challenged person is merely stupid, you might say: He’s as shy of brains as a terrapin is of feathers.
And about the even stupider, you might say: His brain cavity wouldn’t make a drinking cup for a canary. (Reminds me that politicians want to reduce unnecessary spending by firing all those western states cattle guards).
Or even better: He don’t have nothin’ under his hat but hair. (Reminds me of the woman who wanted the highway department to move the “deer crossing” signs so the deer would cross at a less busy traffic area).
And still another: He was so dumb, he couldn’t drive nails in a snowbank. (Reminds me of the guy who tested an empty light socket with his thumb).
This is one of my favorites: His family tree was a shrub. (Reminds me of anybody’s first husband).
e_SDLqWayne Erbsen’s Cowboy Songs, Jokes, Lingo ‘n Lore” is a slim treasure of cowboy recipes, songs, poetry, advice, history and wise observations like the following:
It’s the man that’s the cowhand, not the outfit he wears. (Reminds me of some of the garbs seen in Elko at Cowboy Poetry Gatherings)
A wink’s as good as a nod to a blind mule. (Reminds me of some of the men I once dated).
You can never tell which way the pickle’s goin’ to squirt. (Reminds me of election debates).
Tossin’ your rope before buildin’ a loop don’t catch the calf. (Reminds me of Ted Turner).
A full house divided don’t win no pots. (Reminds me of Congressional doin’s).
The bigger the mouth, the better it looks when shut. (Reminds me of preachy bureaucrats).
Kickin’ never gets you nowhere, less’n you’re a mule. (Reminds me of environmentalists).
Every man is entitled to scratch his own itch. (Reminds me to hang on to independence).
Polishing your pants on saddle leather don’t make you a rider. (Reminds me to avoid vegetarians).
Color don’t count if the horse don’t trot. (Reminds me of campaign promises).
When in doubt, trust your hoss. (Reminds me not to fall for someone else’s blather).
Thanks, Wayne Erbsen, for your fun book! ❖
If you know someone who can’t find his own elbow, you might say: He couldn’t hit the ground with his hat in three throws.