Dictionary of the American West

  • prairie schooner

  • gauntlets with lone star

    E.L. Reedstrom
  • prospector

    E.L. Reedstrom
  • cover of "Dictionary of the American West"

  If you're looking to string a greener, try offering one a glass of beef tea. Better yet, get 'em roostered on leopard sweat. Chances are, enough of either will send them running outside to air the paunch. Confused? A quick perusal of Win Blevins' revised edition of the Dictionary of the American West will set you straight.

Jam-packed with the lingos of the many cultures that helped shape the American West, Blevins' dictionary spells out the histories and meanings of words and sayings that are uniquely Western. While many of the entries are primarily good for peppering your conversation at cocktail parties, the dictionary also offers valuable insights into the Native American Ghost Dance and boogie boarding, as well as Earth First!ers and other Western subcultures. Whether you're a "greener" or a wizened "sourdough," the Dictionary of the American West will amaze you with the scope of the West's linguistic history.

And if you are the butt of an old-timer's joke, pass up the glass of beef-befouled tea, and only drink leopard sweat - potent Mormon homemade whiskey - if you think you can keep it down.

Dictionary of the American West, by Win Blevins. Sasquatch Books (800/775-0817), Seattle, Wash., 2001. Paperback: $19.95. 430 pages.

High Country News Classifieds