How to talk Western

  • Illustration of book cover


Would you like to add some colorful Westernisms to your vocabulary? Look no further than Thomas L. Clark's new book, Western Lore and Language: A Dictionary for Enthusiasts of the American West:

Biscuit shooter - The camp cook for ranch operations (1890s).

Bizzing - Hanging on the rear of a moving vehicle on a snow-slick street (mainly central Utah, 1960s). Also called bumper-bumming.

Bog rider - A cowboy who must go out in the spring and pull cows out of the mud (1910s).

Brush monkey - In logging, the person who performs menial tasks (mainly California, 1950s).

Buckle bunny - A female rodeo groupie (1970s).

Cohab - A polygamist (1880s).

Dude - Related words: dudedom, dudeness, dudery, dudie, dudine, dudish, dudism (all 1880s).

Fernhopper - A logger in the Pacific Northwest (1950s).

Horse crippler - A species of cactus, Echinocactus texensis (1870s).

Slow elk - Cattle, especially those that have been stolen and slaughtered (1910).

Spillionaire - An Alaskan who got rich from the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster and clean-up (1989).

Reprinted courtesy of the University of Utah Press, from Thomas L. Clark: Western Lore and Language, A Dictionary for Enthusiasts of the American West (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1996). ISBN 0-87480-510-4. Cloth, $24.95. Copies may be ordered directly from the University of Utah Press, toll-free 800/773-6672, or fax orders to 801/581-3365.

*Jared Farmer