Old Wild West Slang

Old Wild West slang has everyone’s interest. It is always neat to look into all of these words that we rarely hear and to learn more about them and their true meanings, as well as to see some of the ways that people spoke not too long ago. With this list of slang, you can see how people in the Old West used to speak to one another and you can even see some words that are familiar. Go through, learn, use them for writing, or add them to your vocabulary, whatever you want to do and whatever you feel is right. With so many words, making use of them is not that hard.

At sea – This is a rather easy one to understand. When you are at sea, you are lost. If someone were to tell you, “Well, this makes no kind of sense. I am at sea.” They are saying that they are lost on the matter.

Ace-High – It means “respected and first class”, or it could also be a winning poker hand.

Airin’ the Lungs – A term used for cussing.

All Beer and Skittles – Unhappy or no so pleasant.

Atwixt – Atwixt is something that you are likely going to understand immediately, possibly because you have heard something like it before. It is between. Saying, “The man is atwixt the two horses.” would mean that the man is between the two horses.

Bared – Bared is certainly a word that you have likely heard before, but maybe not like this. If someone went up to you and said, “John is all bared now.” they would mean that John is all shaved now. His face is bare of the hair that was once found on it.

Bangtail – A free-roaming horse or wild horse like a mustang.

Barber’s Clerk – An over-dressed or conceited person who tries to act like a “gentleman”.

Barrel Fever – A term for hangover.

Bazoo ~ Refers to a person’s mouth. “If you have nothing good to say, keep your bazoos shut.”

Calaboose ~ a prison.

California Collar –  A term for a hangman’s noose.

Canned Cow – Milk in can.

Croaker – Now, this is one that you may not know right away. Croaker has nothing to do with frogs or dying, instead pessimism. A man saying, “That lady is some croaker.” they mean that she is a pessimist, that she is seeing the terrible in everything.

Daisy – Excellent.

Dead Meat – Refers to a corpse.

Dreadful ~ Very. for example, “Oh, you look dreadfully beautiful.”

Dynamite – It’s a just a whiskey.

Dude – When you think of a dude ranch, you probably think of something close to the Old West. However, back in the Old West, if someone were to call you a dude, they would be saying that you look like an Easterner, or someone who looks up-scale, quite the opposite of the “dudes” that we know of today.

Eagle – A $10 gold coin.

Elephant – It came from the phrase “to see the elephant”, which means to go to to a place for the first time, to go  to town, or to see the world.

Equalizer – A pistol gun.

Eucher, euchered – To outwit or to out-smart someone.

Exfluncticate – To completely ruin or destroy.

Fag – It is not a pejorative that we use nowadays. In cowboy talk, it only means to get out fast.

Fine as cream gravy – Top notch.

Fiddle – Head of a horse.

Fix One’s Flint – To resolve a matter.

Fuddled – A person who is tipsy or drunk.

Gallnipper – A very big mosquito.

Grand ~ excellent, beautiful. “The decorations look just grand!”

Grassed – refers when a person is thrown from a horse.

Green – untrained horse; while a trained or experienced horse is called “made” 

Go through the mill – gain experience in a tough way.

Hang around ~ wait around idly or loiter.

Hay Baler – Also known as hay burner; a horse.

Hard case ~ worthless or bad person.

Hear Tell – To hear of or to hear a report of.

Hobble your lip – Keep your mouth shut.

Illy – Sick or ill.

Indian Side – It refers to the right side of a horse.

Indian Whiskey – Also known as Indian Liquor. Inexpensive, poor quality liquor.

In Liquor – Drunk or Intoxicated.

Iron Horse – A term for a railroad train.

Jackeroo – A buckaroo or a cowboy.

Jingled – A drunk person.

John Barleycorn – It simply means “beer”.

Jump the Broom – It’s when a person decides to get married.

Justins – Cowboy boots.

Kansas Sheep Dip – It’s a whiskey

Keep That Dry – Keep it hidden or keep it secret.

Kettled – The bucking of a horse.

Kick Up a Row – Make a disturbance.

Kitchen Safe – Cupboard

Lead Poisoning – It refers to being shot. “That person died of lead poisoning.”

Lickfinger – Also known as “lick-spittle” or to kiss ass.

Mad as a Hornet – Very mad.

Molly – Effeminate young man.

Nothing To Nobody – It’s nobody’s business.

Nosey Parker – Nosey person.

Offish – Offish should not be a surprise to anyone. Saying that someone is being offish today would likely mean that they are acting strange, but that changes when you add stand to it, making it standoffish. It is essentially the same as offish back then, meaning someone was being distant.

Off one’s feed – No appetite.

Of the First Water – First class. “She’s a lady of the first water.”

Old Pod – Old person.

On the Dead – Free, gratis.

Oof – It only means “money”

Pass the buck – avoid or escape responsibility.

Persnickity – Picky, peculiar.

Queer Fish – An eccentric or odd person.

Quirley – Roll-your-own cigarette.

Road Agent – Bandit or robber.

Run against a pill – To take a bullet or be shot.

Salt Horse – Corned beef.

Soft horse – a weak horse or the one with little stamina.

Tear Squeezer – It refers to a sad story.

To the manner born – Saying that someone is “to the manner born” would mean that they are natural. If you are told that you a speaker to the manner born, that means that you are a natural speaker.

Throw up the sponge – Surrender, give up, quit.

Uppish – Insolent, proud.

Up To Snuff – To be shrewd.

Vamoose – To leave quickly or disappear.

Vum – A type of swearing. Similar to “I vow!” – “I vum!”

Wall – Roll your eyes.

Weed – A common word for tobacco.

Yam – To eat.

Yellow Belly – Coward.

Zitted – Flew or zipped. ” The bullet zitted in every direction.

Zooning – Barking, buzzing, humming.

If you know other cowboy slang that we can add to this list, please leave a comment a below. Thanks!.

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