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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cowboy Talk 1


Have you ever heard "cowboy talk" in a movie or TV show? What is it like?


Match these definitions to the terms below:

1. a well-dressed person, usually from "back East"
2. cemetery
3. first-class, or well-respected
4. give, or pay out
5. have a drink
6. hurry
7. someone or something that is gone, or perhaps dead
8. to ambush, or attack without warning
9. to beat up
10. very good, outstanding

a. ace-high
b. bend an elbow
c. bone orchard
d. bully
e. clean one's plow
f. dry gulch
g. dude
h. fork over
i. get a wiggle on
j. goner


Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. ABC Company's reputation is __________ in their field.
2. After he lost the gunfight, they planted him in the __________.
3. If we don't __________, the competition's going to get all the advertising.
4. Joe: "I got a raise!" Fred: "__________ for you!"
5. Let's go out and __________ after work.
6. No one's buying that product; it's a __________.
7. Take a look at that __________ over there in those fancy clothes.
8. The competition really __________ last quarter.
9. We were __________ by our competitor's viral advertising campaign.
10. We'll get the boss to __________ our commissions early.


1. Does cowboy talk sound more like "city" or "country" expressions? Why do you think this is?
2. What other cowboy expressions do you know?
3. Use these expressions in sentences of your own.

1. g; 2. c; 3. a; 4. h; 5. b; 6. i; 7. j; 8. f; 9. e; 10. d

1. a ace-high; 2. c bone orchard; 3. i get a wiggle on; 4. d Bully; 5. b bend an elbow; 6. j goner; 7. g dude; 8. e cleaned our plow; 9. f dry gulched; 10. h fork over


Here's some background on the terms:
1. ace-high: a reference to playing cards, where the ace is sometimes counted as the lowest card (like one) and sometimes the highest.
2. bend an elbow: as when one brings a drink to one's lips
3. bone orchard: An apple orchard grows apples, so… Not recommended for business use.
4. bully: often associated with President Teddy Roosevelt
5. clean one's plow: a plow is used to prepare earth for planting seeds; it is cleaned after use, so when your plow is cleaned, it may mean you are finished.
6. dry gulch: describes a riverbed or streambed with no water, a bad situation
7. dude: In modern times, this has become a slang term for any man.
8. fork over: perhaps like using a pitchfork, a kind of tool for moving hay
9. get a wiggle on: to "wiggle one's legs" could mean to move quickly?
10. goner: The meaning is clear.

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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