I grew up in Mississippi and moved to Oklahoma when I was in my late teens. One thing you can say about the deep South and Southern-minded places like the Sooner State is the language can be quite colorful. I never paid much attention to some of the idioms I would spout on a daily basis. Even after all this time. That was, until I got a Yankee friend! Yep, now I’ve done it. But my crazy sayings afford her laughs on a daily basis, and I suppose that’s more than most can ask for.
For me, they are second nature. I don’t give them a second thought. They are just there, jumping from my mouth like everyone says them.
Okay, so maybe my Baltimore friends have no idea what I mean, but I know a few cowboys who would. More than a few actually. See, cowboys have a language all their own. I’m not talking about bull fighters (previously known as rodeo clowns) and latigo (a leather strap on a Western saddle). It’s more of an everyday vernacular as colorful as a West Texas sunset.
Here are a few for you to enjoy–
A lick and a promise = to do haphazardly. “She gave it a lick and a promise.”
Back down = yield, withdraw.
Bang-up = first rate. “They did a bang-up job.”
Bend an elbow = have a drink. “He’s been known to bend an elbow from time to time.”
Bender = drunk. “He’s off on bender again.”
Blow-up = fight/argument. “He and the missus had a blow-up, but it’s over, now.”
Buckle bunny = rodeo groupie
by hook or crook = any way possible
Cantina = bar/restaurant
Cowboy up = cowboy equivalent of chin up buttercup
Goner = Dead or past the point of no return—as in love. “He’s a goner.”
Heap = a great deal. “He went through a heap of trouble to get her that piano.”
Hoosegow = jail
In cahoots = secretly partnering together
Namby-pamby = not brave
Skedaddle = leave quickly
Tenderfoot or greenhorn = a new person
Y’all = all of you (always plural)
Yokel = a person from the country (not the city)
Yonder = over there
And my favorite: In apple pie order = in top shape. Because, well, I write “Romances as Sweet as Apple Pie!”
I’d love to hear from you. What cowboy idioms are you familiar with? Do you have one to add to the list? Or maybe just a great saying from your neck of the woods? Whatever it is, leave me a comment below.
Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of Healing a Heart, my newest western romance.
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Here’s a little more about Healing a Heart:
Amy Lillard, the author of Loving a Lawman invites you back to the ranch…
As cowboys, the Langston brothers of Cattle Creek, Texas, know it’s easy to mend a fence. Mending a broken heart, however, takes time…
Rancher Jake Langston prides himself on being the sensible type. But five years after the loss of his wife left him to raise their daughter alone, he indulges in a one-night stand with a sexy stranger. He thought he’d never see the woman again. Four months later, though, she’s standing in his drive with a big surprise.
Bryn Talbot wants nothing from the hunky cowboy who got her pregnant, but her Southern nature demands she at least tell him about it. When Jake’s family persuades her to stay for a while, she’s soon won over by their charms—and by Jake. But with the losses the two of them have suffered in the past, neither is sure if they’re ready to take the leap to forever…
And as always, thanks for reading!