[kou-boi] /ˈkaʊˌbɔɪ/

a man who herds and tends cattle on a ranch, especially in the western U.S., and who traditionally goes about most of his work on horseback.
a man who exhibits the skills attributed to such cowboys, especially in rodeos.
Chiefly Northeastern U.S. a reckless or speedy automobile driver.
Informal. a reckless or irresponsible person, especially a show-off or one who undertakes a dangerous or sensitive task heedlessly:
They put foreign policy in the hands of cowboys.
(during the American Revolution) a member of a pro-British guerrilla band that operated between the American and British lines near New York City.
verb (used without object)
to work as a cowboy.
Also called cowhand. a hired man who herds and tends cattle, usually on horseback, esp in the western US
a conventional character of Wild West folklore, films, etc, esp one involved in fighting Indians

(Austral) a man or boy who tends cattle

1725, “boy who tends to cows,” from cow (n.) + boy. Sense in Western U.S. is from 1849; in figurative use by 1942 for “brash and reckless young man” (as an adjective meaning “reckless,” from 1920s). Cowhand is first attested 1852 in American English (see hand (n.)). Cowpoke (said to be 1881, not in popular use until 1940s) was said to be originally restricted to the cowboys who prodded cattle onto railroad cars with long poles.



To murder recklessly and openly: even if we had to cowboy them (which) means that we were to kill them any place we found them even if it was in the middle of Broadway (1920s+ Underworld)

Related Terms

drugstore cowboy

[Sun, from William Gibson’s cyberpunk SF] Synonym for hacker. It is reported that at Sun this word is often said with reverence.
[Jargon File]


Read Also:

  • Cowbird

    [kou-burd] /ˈkaʊˌbɜrd/ noun 1. any of several New World blackbirds of the genus Molothrus, especially M. ater, of North America, that accompany herds of cattle. /ˈkaʊˌbɜːd/ noun 1. any of various American orioles of the genera Molothrus, Tangavius, etc, esp M. ater (common or brown-headed cowbird). They have a dark plumage and short bill

  • Cowboys-and-indians

    noun 1. a children’s game in which players imitate the supposed behavior of cowboys and Indians in conflict, as in shooting, chasing, and capturing.

  • Cowboy up

    verb 1. (intransitive, adverb) (US, informal) to adopt a tough approach or course of action

  • Cow-chips

    plural noun 1. dried cow dung used especially for fuel by early settlers, explorers, etc., in the American West.

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