Excerpts from a New West dictionary

  • Cartoon of a farmer digging furrows for new subdivision

    Mike Algiers
 

cal*i*for*ni*an (kal' u forn' yun) n. 1. resident of the state of California. 2. imprudent spender single-handedly responsible for inflated values of real property. [earlier form: Texan]


en*dan*gered spe*cies (en dan' grd spe' sez) n. 1. every group that has had a representative address a public hearing in the West: "Ranchers, miners, etc.: We're the endangered species." 2. a species of plants or animals facing imminent extinction. [Obsolete]

en*vi*ron*men*tal*ist (en vi' ern men' tl ist) n. [Old English, a jobless unsanitary person who advocates protection for natural resources Slang, vulgar] 1. every member of the National Cattlemen's Association, usage typically preceded by adjective "original." 2. any rancher facing reduction in allotted grazing on public lands. [1992]

hob*by ranch (hob' e ranch) n. 1. derogatory term for a rural property owned by a wealthy, often absentee, owner where livestock are produced under range conditions. 2. a rural property that produces livestock under range conditions which would have been sold to a land developer and reduced to lot-sized parcels for sale by operators of telephone boiler rooms had it not been purchased by a wealthy, often absentee, owner who afterwards employs experienced ranch hands, sometimes called "cowboys," who would otherwise be engaged in other decidedly non-bucolic occupations. [1990-95, Amer.]

job (job) n. [originally any form of paid employment. Colloq. Obsolete] employment paying enough to support household of five, along with snowmobiles and powerboat. May be aboveground or underground. Commonly preceded by adjective "real." [1980-90]

new*com*er (noo' kum' er) n. 1. a person whose family or ancestors arrived in last hundred years. (Slang, vulgar) 2. a person who arrived at least one day before the user of this word. 3. persons of European ancestry. [1492, Amer. Ind.]

new west (noo' west) n. undefinable term used to create the pretense that Western social processes have changed. [1970]

old west (old' west) n. 1. brief historical period spanning the years 1850-90, characterized by pioneering settlement and violent extinguishment of native title to lands. 2. idyllic historical period when men were men. {Mythical, 1890]

ranch (ranch) n. 1. a rural property where livestock are produced under range conditions. 2. any rural property whose resident has recently relocated from an urban area, typically used as a subtle conversational reminder of new-found landed status: I'll call you from the ranch. 3. any rural property bigger than a city lot. see 1. 2. above. [1800-1985, Amer.]

tro*phy home (tro' fe hom) n. 1. any one of several large ostentatious dwellings belonging to a single owner who resides periodically for the purpose of enjoying a seasonal climate or recreational pursuits. 2. any home larger than your own, particularly if it appears to raise your property valuation and taxes. 3. any one of several large, ostentatious dwellings whose owner, by virtue of being largely absent, pays more in local property taxes than he/she extracts in governmental services. [1994-96]

John Walker lives in Coaldale, Colo., where he is writing a history of charcoal.

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].

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