Wise and witty terms/phrases from “The Cowboy Dictionary”

The following list identifies some favorite terms and phrases from The Cowboy Dictionary*. The ones listed below are among the wisest and wittiest this blog author found in the book. Enjoy!

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using the above links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


  • Airin’ the lungs” – cussing
  • A wink’s as good as a nod to a blind mule.”
  • As full of arrows as a porcupine” – struck by a lot of arrows in a battle with Native Americans
  • Barking at a knot” – trying to accomplish the impossible
  • Brains in the head saves blisters on the feet
  • Built high above his corns” – a tall person
  • Chaparral bird” – a roadrunner
  • Chinning the moon” – horse that rears up on its hind legs
  • Colorado Mockingbird” – a burro
  • Conversation fluid” – whiskey
  • Corpse and cartridge occasion” – a gunfight
  • Couldn’t drive nails in a snowbank” – a person who is not very smart
  • Down on the skillet” – in the Texas Panhandle
  • Dragging his navel in the sand” – leaving in a hurry
  • Dressed up like a sore toe” – dressed all fancy
  • Dying with throat trouble” – the victim of a hanging
  • Entitled to a warm corner” – an old or retired cowboy
  • Fartknocker” – thrown onto the ground by your horse
  • Feedin’ off his range” – a busybody or meddling in other people’s business
  • Five beans in the wheel” – bullets in your gun
  • Flannelmouth” – a blabbermouth
  • Fork end down” – standing up straight or sitting up straight in the saddle
  • Fork end up” – thrown from your horse especially if landing on your head
  • Get rid of his leaf lard” – to lose weight
  • Got callouses from pattin’ his own back” – braggarts
  • Grabbin’ the brandin’ iron by the hot end” – taking risks and it not turning out well
  • Gritty as fish eggs rolled in sand” – a brave person
  • Had a taste in my mouth like I’d had supper with a coyote.
  • He’ll fight us till hell freezes over, them skate with ya on the ice.
  • His cinch is gettin’ frayed.” – someone who wears our their welcome
  • Hobble your lip.” – be quiet
  • Homeless as a poker chip” – a restless soul
  • Kiss the ground” – thrown from your horse
  • Makin’ the town smoky” – a gunfight
  • Man’s the only animal that can be skinned more than once.
  • Met his shadow on the ground” – thrown from your horse
  • More wrinkles on his horns” – an aging cowboy
  • Narrow at the equator” – to be very hungry
  • No beans in the wheel” – any empty gun
  • Only a fool argues with a skunk, mule, or a cook.
  • Paintin’ his tonsils” – drinking whiskey
  • Powder-viewin’ contest” – a gunfight
  • Prairie coal” – Buffalo chips
  • Quartz on the brain” – one suffering from gold fever
  • Raised on prunes and proverbs” – a fastidious or religious person
  • Raised on sour milk” – a grumpy person
  • Riding out of town with nothing but a head” – morning after hangover
  • Saddle a dead horse on him” – an unwelcome obligation
  • Scratching gravel” – climbing a steep bank on horseback
  • Shaved behind the skin” – very short grass on the prairie
  • Six-shooter coffee” – strong coffee that you could float gun on it
  • Sober side of the bar” – where the bartender is
  • Somebody stole his rudder” – a drunk cowboy walking aimlessly down the street
  • Sticking like a postage stamp” – a good ride on a bucking horse
  • Stretching the blanket” – a tall tale
  • Success is the size of the hole a man leaves after he dies.
  • Takin’ off the first layer of his tonsils” – drinking whiskey
  • The bigger the mouth, the better it looks when shut.
  • The man that always straddles the fence usually has a sore crotch.
  • Too thick to drink too thin to plow” – muddy water
  • Wash off the war paint” – cool down from being angry
  • Wearin’ callouses on his elbows” – leaning on elbows at the bar
  • Wild, woolly, and full o’ fleas” – a genuine cowboy


  • Adams, Ramon F. The Cowboy Dictionary, 1993 edition.
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