from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A hired man, especially in the western United States, who tends cattle and performs many of his duties on horseback. Also called cowman, cowpoke, cowpuncher; also called regionally buckaroo, vaquero, waddy2. See Regional Note at vaquero.
  • n. An adventurous hero.
  • n. Slang A reckless person, such as a driver, pilot, or manager, who ignores potential risks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A man who tends free-range cattle, especially in the American West.
  • n. A man who identifies with cowboy culture, including wearing a cowboy hat and being a fan of country and western music.
  • n. A person who engages in reckless behavior, especially for the purpose of showing off.
  • n. A dishonest and/or incompetent independent tradesman.
  • n. A playing card of king rank.
  • v. To work as a cowboy, herding cattle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cattle herder; a drover; specifically, one of an adventurous class of herders and drovers on the plains of the Western and Southwestern United States.
  • n. One of the marauders who, in the Revolutionary War infested the neutral ground between the American and British lines, and committed depredations on the Americans.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A boy who takes charge of cows or drives them to and from pasture.
  • n. On the great plains of the western United States, a man employed by a stockman or ranchman in the care of grazing cattle, doing his work on horseback.
  • n. One of a band of marauders during the American revolution, chiefly refugees belonging to the British side, who infested the neutral ground between the British and American lines in the neighborhood of New York, and plundered the whigs or revolutionists.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone who is reckless or irresponsible (especially in driving vehicles)
  • n. a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback
  • n. a performer who gives exhibitions of riding and roping and bulldogging


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Long before the term cowboy was coined in the 1700s, free and enslaved Africans and their descendents were herding cattle on Florida's prairies.

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  • Texas's success in leading California—and every state in the union—in job growth stems from what I call "cowboy capitalism."

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  •  She baked what she called cowboy cookies and brought them wrapped in plastic to give away at our favorite bar, she kept bags of socks and gloves from the dollar store in the back seat of her car to give away on the street.

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  • I don't even consider him my president, or the voice of the american people because this cowboy is all to concerned with his on saddle!

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  • To them the cowboy is and always will be the crowning pinnacle of American manhood and rugged individualism.

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  • And what they're doing, they're protesting anything from the Canadian troops that are in Afghanistan, to some who say that this conference is all about what they call cowboy capitalism, coming in and merging, trying to take over the sovereignty of Canada and Mexico.

    CNN Transcript Aug 21, 2007

  • Things were going well for him until his friend volunteered they had a friend in the CIA who had told them wear armbands that looked a little bit like the Japanese flag, white with a red zero in the middle and to use the code word cowboy that that would guarantee them safe passage, free passage down this major highway.

    CNN Transcript Apr 6, 2003

  • You call it 'cowboy' if you like, but I am here writing this and the other guy isn't because I did what I just wrote about.

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  • Yeah, drop that bag of dog shit, cap that bottle of Jim Beam, go get your good brush-clearing gloves and hop on your horse Geor … wait a minute, the cowboy is afraid of horses.

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  • More FreshwaterQ: are browning fishing products overrated? are they quality products worth the extra dollars? thanks all, cowboy from the cowboy on 02.09.10

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