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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cowboy Talk 3


Why do you think cowboy talk is different from regular talk? That is, how did it evolve (come to be)? Think of historical and social causes. See the "Notes" for some ideas.


Let's continue with more cowboy idioms. Remember to be careful using these; in some cases, they may better be used as part of your passive (reading and listening) than active (writing and speaking) vocabulary.

Match these definitions to the terms below:

1. bluff
2. dinero
3. dreadful or powerful (adv.)
4. fetch
5. fiesta
6. flannel mouth
7. flush
8. game
9. get it in the neck
10. pardner

a. companion or colleague
b. be killed (literally) or fail (figuratively)
c. bring, or get, or give
d. rich
e. someone who talks smooth, like a salesman
f. Spanish word for "party"
g. Spanish word for "money"
h. to lie or pretend, especially in a card game
i. very
j. willing, or courageous


Cowboys lived out away from cities, so, because they were isolated (separate) from the usual style of speaking, they developed their own.. They were usually less educated than city people, but were still very colorful in their ways of expressing themselves.


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

1. Don't believe that guy; he's a __________ if ever there was one.
2. I don't think ABC Company's new product is anywhere near ready; if they say they're launching this month, they're __________.
3. If we reach our goals for this quarter, we'll have a big __________ for the whole office.
4. We really __________ last quarter, but we'll catch up this quarter.
5. Since we launched our new product my company is __________.
6. Even though they're far behind the other sales teams, my team is still __________ to stay in the sales contest.
7. That company is __________ big.
8. Good to see you, __________; it's been a while since we've worked together.
9. This new product is going to make us mucho __________!
10. If our stocks go up much more, they should __________ a good price.


Talk about these with a friend, or write your answers.

1. Why do you think cowboys sometimes used Spanish words, like "dinero" and "fiesta"?
2. What do you do when someone bluffs you? How do you deal with a flannel mouth? What do you do when you get it in the neck?
3. Who is your pardner? Have you ever been flush? Are you usually game?


1. h to lie or pretend, especially in a card game, where pretending to hold a high hand to scare one's opponent is a common tactic.
2. g this is the Spanish word for money. It was commonly used by cowboys, and is still used in the American Southwest as part of the "Spanglish" (Spanish English) common there.
3. i very. These are adverbs in adjective form (without "-ly"). Also, although "dreadful" would seem to have a negative connotation, here it is neutral (it can be good or bad depending on the context). "I was dreadful happy to see these new figures," or "I was dreadful sorry to hear about our third-quarter loss."
4. c bring, or get, or give. "Fetch me a pen, would you?" or "We fetched a huge gain this quarter," or "We've fetched them a beating on our market segment." The first use, as "Fetch me a pen," might be offensive to some, as this verb is used to describe the action of a dog bringing something, as "fetching a stick."
5. f the Spanish word for "party."
6. e someone who talks smooth, like a salesman. Flannel is a very soft material, and the feeling of this saying is like saying "sweet words."
7. d rich. It may come from the name of a high hand in the card game called poker.
8. j willing, or courageous. "Are you game to take on this project?"
9. b be killed (literally) or fail (figuratively). Also "Take it in the neck."
10. a companion or colleague, "partner." Cowboys often worked in pairs, and a good "pardner" was a real asset. Used like "buddy" or "pal."


1 flannel mouth; 2 bluffing; 3 fiesta; 4 got it in the neck; 5 flush; 6 game; 7 dreadful or powerful; 8 pardner; 9 dinero; 10 fetch
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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