How to avoid looking like an idiot when talking to a cowboy.

by Kevin on August 3, 2011

Words are powerful things. Consider the old saying, “You can’t take back two things: a rock that’s been thrown and a word spoken.” Well, there’s another saying that gets more to the point. “Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can make me look stupid.”

Here are ten words that shouldn’t ever come out of your mouth when talking to a cowboy. Cowboys don’t use them, and if they do, it’s in jest or joke or to make city people feel at home. I have put the word you should use in bold.

  1. Lasso
    No one uses lasso. I don’t care if you use it as a noun describing a rope or as a verb, cowboys don’t use this word.
  2. Corral
    For one thing, you have to think about this word. It’s a spanish word and if you don’t roll your tongue on the R’s, you’ve already made a huge mistake. Cowboys say pens.
  3. Canter
    I’m liable to be shot for putting this word in here. Horse people are already having conniption fits of varying degrees, but the fact is, this is a lope. Cowboy’s don’t canter a horse, they lope a horse.
  4. Help Me
    This seemingly benign statement actually eats away at his fearsome pride. Most cowboys I know will never use those words. They will however say things like, “Can you give me a hand.”
  5. I Don’t Know
    If a cowboy doesn’t know, he at least has an opinion about it. (Sorry, there are no substitute words here.)
  6. Yee-Haw
    This is the mother of all that is NOT cowboy. I have never, never, never seen a cowboy actually use this and really mean it. If he or she did, they were probably trying to make a city person feel comfortable or pokin’ fun at ’em. There is a completely acceptable alternate form in “Ahhhh-Hawww“. If you are unfamiliar with this term, go online and get you a Bob Wills CD.
  7. Stetson
    This name has become synonymous (yes, cowboys can use that word) with cowboy hats. I had a guy come up to me not long ago, look at my black felt hat and say, “I’ve been thinking about getting me a Stetson like yours.” Everything is a hat or a lid.
  8. Spur Straps
    OK, this list is getting harder so I thought I’d throw this in. I’m not talkin’ about saying these words, I’m talking about wearing spurs. If you wear a pair of spurs, be sure you have the right spur strap on the right spur. There is a left and right spur and a left and right spur strap. Nothing screams, “I’m a city slicker!!” like this cowboy faux pa.
  9. Buy
    Cowboys will use the past tense of this word, but never the present tense. For one, a ranch cowboy probably doesn’t have any money, so he isn’t going to try to buy something from you, he’s gonna try to swap you for it.
  10. Happy Trails
    I’m gonna have to go ride 9 bucking horses for penance just because I typed those words.

As fun as that is, there is one word that I find myself saying that shouldn’t ever come out of any Christians mouth except when talking about God.

That word is Holy.

Think of the different ways holy is used before other words, and I ain’t just talking about the s-word.

There is only one thing that is holy and that is God. I’m going to drop that word from my everyday vocabulary and just use it when referencing God.

What are some words that are pet peeves of yours?

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  • Don Coyote


    1) Lasso: is a long, sometimes beaded arrangement used in Latino weddings, placed around the bride and groom’s neck before the vows.

    2) Corral: What a Latin gal does to her man before, during and after she LASSOS him.

    3) & 4) I’m good with those.

    5) There ARE words, somethin’ to the effect of “Now wait a minute OR ya just don’ understand OR lissen hear” along those lines.

    6) through 9) Good

    10) ONLY 9?????????

  • I was at a conference where I heard the main speaker say “Terminology becomes theology.” The words we use when talking about God will drive what we believe about Him or about the Christian life. Then, the speaker talked about worship, about how when most people say “worship,” what they really mean is “music,” when the Biblical definition of worship (in Romans 12) is a life offered in sacrifice.

    Another guy at the conference talked about the word “awesome.” He then quoted Job 25:2 – “dominion and awe belong to God.” We use words like “awesome” to describe hamburgers and movies today (yes, guilty as charged), and when we do that, we run out of special words reserved just for God.

    Strangely, I hadn’t thought about the word “Holy” in this way. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Every bit of it sooo True…Especially #6! I hate it when I go to town and someone hollers that at me!

  • Mike McMurry

    Hey guess what? I’m retiring 08-31-2011…so with that
    I’ll leave you a retirement comment….it’s ok to say “lariat” which is the cowboy corruption of the Spanish “la reata”{ which half the words in a cowboy’s vocabulary are} long as you put “rope” with it. It’s a lariat rope..which distinguishes it from a
    well rope, jump rope, tow rope etc. Of course a cowboy will use a lariat rope for all of these if necessary. Send rain.

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