|Montana cowboys, c1910|
These are from novels by Owen Wister and Frederic Remington, about a cowboy in Wyoming, a half-breed, and a white man raised by Indians in Montana. Once again I struck out on a few. If anybody knows the meaning of “heifer’s delight” or “molasses and slivers,” leave a comment.
beef = to knock someone down. “I beefed him under the ear, and we took his guns away, sir.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
biscuit shooter = a waitress. “I felt a rising hate for the ruby-cheeked, large-eyed, eating-house lady, the biscuit-shooter whose influence was dimming this jaunty, irrepressible spirit.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
blue ribbon = a badge worn by those who had taken the pledge of temperance. “I have offered that boy a drink out of my flask on campaign, when we were cold enough and tired enough to make my old Aunt Jane weaken on her blue ribbon.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
Bogardus = successful New York Daguerreotypist (1822-1908). “He handed the much-soiled photograph labeled ‘Bogardus’ to her.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
boss = the best, excellent. “You don’t want to go in there. We’ll show yer the boss place in Market Street.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
bugged up = dressed up. “Who’s your friend all bugged up in English clothes.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
coffee cooler = anyone who lazes around instead of doing his duty. “Lieutenant was say I dam coffee-cooler. Well—I was not.” Frederic Remington, Sundown Leflare.
cook’s police = general assistant to the Army cook, dish washing, peeling potatoes, carrying coal, washing windows, dining room cleanup. “It was not long before the young scout could tell a colonel from a cook’s police at a glance.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
dray = a low, heavy cart without sides, used for haulage. “The great flat-topped dray for hauling poles came last, with its four government mules.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
flannel cake = a flat cake of thin batter fried on both sides on a griddle. “Billy pronounced the flannel cakes superior to flapjacks, which were not upon the bill of fare.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
flubdub = pretentious nonsense; bunkum. “She’s lamed me up twice beating me—an’ Perkins wanting me to say ‘God bless my mother!’ a-getting up and a-going to bed—he’s a flubdub.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
galligaskins = loose trousers, leggings. “Some of the infantrymen got tired of sewing up three-cornered tears in their galligaskins.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
Gothic self-abandonment = the heedless enthusiasm with which Teutonic warriors were believed to throw themselves into battle. “The two old men understood what they saw even if they had never heard of the ‘Gothic self-abandonment’ which was the inheritance of White Weasel.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
grass-bellied with spot cash = rich, having plenty of money. “Just as a loan, Doc—some of it. I’m grass-bellied with spot-cash.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
hammer-headed = said of a horse with a short, stiff neck. “Their gaunt, hammer-headed, grass-bellied, cat-hammed, roach-backed ponies went with them when they took their departure.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
high wine = a distillate containing a high percentage of alcohol. “His poor stomach kept trying to crawl out of his body in its desperate strife to escape Wilmore’s decoction of high-wine.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
histe over the jiste = roughly, do some damage (histe, an old form of hoist). “You, Lin, if you try any of your foolin’ with me, I’ll histe yu’s over the jiste.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
hog ranch = a brothel. “Across the river some were holding horse-races upon the level beyond the hog-ranch.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
honey-cooler = an extraordinary person or thing. “It’s a honey-cooler. You will fall dead when you see it.” Frederic Remington, John Ermine of the Yellowstone.
hotchpot = in law, the collecting of property for equal distribution. “He had fallen, along with other incongruities, into the roaring Western hotch-pot, and he passed his careful, precise days with barometers and weather-charts.” Owen Wister, Lin McLean.
Image credits: Frederic Remington
Coming up: Crossfire Trail (2001)