Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Old West glossary, no. 44

Montana cowboys, c1910
Here’s another set of terms gleaned from early western stories. Definitions were discovered in various online dictionaries, as well as searches in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Dictionary of the American West, The New Encyclopedia of the American West, The Cowboy Dictionary, The Cowboy Encyclopedia, Vocabulario Vaquero, I Hear America Talking, and The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

These are from Dennis H. Stovall’s The Gold Bug Story Book, about a western mining camp, and Eleanor Gate’s Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher, about a matchmaking cowboy. Once again, I struck out on a few. If anyone has a definition for “punkin whistle,” “stick in one’s lip,” “split shakes,” “razoo,” “eat the shucks,” or “go shucks,” leave a comment below.

Saloon with bar towel, 1897
bar towel = a complimentary towel hanging from the bar in a saloon to wipe the foam from patrons mustaches. “‘Cupid’s drunk,’ says Monkey Mike. ‘Somebody’s hit him with a bar-towel.’” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

“Belle of Mohawk Vale, The” = a song from c1860 by G. W. Elliott and J. R. Thomas, popular among Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. “When Macie sung, it was The Mohawk Vale ev’ry time.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher. Listen here.

blab = a thin board clipped on a calf’s nose, used for weaning. “I’ll bet she’s gone ‘way past the poll-tax age, and has got a face like a calf with a blab on its nose.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

bracket lamp = a lamp projecting from a wall by means of wooden or metal angular support. “‘Yas,—ole man Sewell’s youngest gal. She’s been up to St. Louis goin’ t’ school.’ He turned out the bracket lamp.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

cabbage = to pilfer, take possession of by stealth. “‘I can see Briggs City eatin’ the shucks when it comes ’lection day,’ he says, ‘and that Goldstone man cabbagin’ the sheriff’s office.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

carry = the range of a gun. “He took a gun with a’ extra long carry and put a lead pill where it’d do the most good.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

cheep = a small sound. “Not a cheep about the little gal; wouldn’t ’a’ laughed fer a nickel; and never’d go anywheres nigh the lunch-counter.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

chirk = to make cheerful. “With Macie fixed to go (far’s money went), and without makin’ friends with me, neither, what under the shinin’ sun could chirk me up?” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

cholo = a derogatory term for a Mexican, especially lower class or mixed blood. “Them cholos was all quiet now, and actin’ as keerful as if that rock was dynamite.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Collar box, c1890
collar box = a round cardboard box with a lid, for the storing of collars. “Bill says she was wearin’ one of them fancy collar-box hats, with a duck-wing hitched on to it.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

continental = a coin issued by Congress during the American War of Independence, of no value after 1783. “I didn’t give a continental who heerd me.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

cooler = a jail, prison. “His shack was over behind the town cooler.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

corking = excellent, wonderful. “The Mollie Brown crowd was rushin’ ’round and lookin’ corkin’ shore.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

dicer = a hat. “He wore fine clothes, and a dicer, and when it come to soothin’ the ladies and holdin’ paws, he was there with both hoofs.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

drench = a drink or a dose of medicine. “When they had one of Doc Simpson’s drenches they haids was as big as Bill Williams’s Mountain.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

duck fit = a temper tantrum. “Sewell’s that breed, y’ know, hard-mouthed as a mule, and if he cain’t run things, why, he’ll take a duck-fit.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Florida Water = an American eau de cologne introduced in New York in 1808. “Maype he trinks red ink gocktails, like de Injuns; maybe Florita Vater, oder golone.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

frost plant = any plant on the stems of which crystals of ice are formed during the first freezing weather of autumn. “The frost plant was just peepin’ its soft brown cone through the fat earth for a glimpse of sunlight.” Dennis H. Stovall, The Gold Bug Story Book.

gally = distasteful, impudent. “It’ll be good riddance of bad rubbish. They’re too gally.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

G. B. = grand bounce, dismissal. “And whichever of us mule-skinners happens t’ be bringin’ it in’ll git the G. B. from that high-falutin’ gent in the States that owns the shootin’-match. No, ma’am!” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

give the rinky dink = cheat or swindle a person. “But, say, Mrs. Bridger, you—you ain’t a-goin’ to give the rinky-dink to the Sheriff?” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Glory hole, Treadwell Mine, Alaska, 1908
glory hole = an open pit produced by surface mining. “Days and days he toiled, and plied the yellow-streaked ore in a great heap by the glory hole.” Dennis H. Stovall, The Gold Bug Story Book.

graded herd = cattle improved by breeding. “Comp’ny ain’t what that dude’s after. He’s after a big ranch and a graded herd.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

hell-tooter = a parson, preacher. “This preachin’ gent ain’t none of you’ ev’ry day, tenderfoot, hell-tooters.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

hump = to exert oneself, work hard, hurry. “That showed me I’d got to hump myself. If that real-estate feller blabbed any more.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

jimberjawed = having a projecting lower jaw. “Y’ see, he wasn’t the stylish keerige dawg at all! He was a jimber-jawed bull!” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

muggins = a simple person, fool. “That little Muggins could twist me right ’round her finger—and me not know it!” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

nippers = teeth. “It shore had a fine set of nippers, and could jerk off the stearin’ gear of a cow quicker ’n greazed lightnin’.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

pliers man = derisive name for a cowboy working for a fenced ranch, carrying pliers to mend fences. “She left the road and run agin the fence, cuttin’ the wires as clean in two as a pliers-man.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

purp = a dog, pup. “Wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, kinda whined all the time, like a sick purp.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

ramp = to act threateningly or violently, to rage. “He didn’t mention everlastin’ fire. And he didn’t ramp and pitch and claw his hair.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

rising = a swelling, tumor, boil, abscess. “I felt he was layin’ it on to me, somehow. And if I’d ’a’ been shore of it, I’d ’a’ put some more risin’s on to his face.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

sample room = a bar-room, a place where liquor is sold by the glass. “Next day, the Judge, he give consultin’s in the eatin’-house sample-room.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

sinker = a pancake, round breakfast biscuit or roll. “He was not alone to have the pleasure of his sister’s company during the summer, but would enjoy a respite from the camp sinkers and mulligan of the boarding house.” Dennis H. Stovall, The Gold Bug Story Book.

skew-gee = crooked, slanted, cockeyed. “The dashboard’s smashed into matches, the tumblin’-rods is broke, the spark-condenser’s kaflummuxed, and the hull blamed business is skew-gee.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Blast furnace skip
skip = a bucket, cage, or vehicle for lowering and raising materials or workers in a mine or quarry. “He mounted the skip and went down the incline, stopping on every level and dodging into each drift and tunnel.” Dennis H. Stovall, The Gold Bug Story Book.

slumgullion = cheap food and drink. “Mace ain’t makin’ enough money passin’ slumgullion to them passenger cattle all day, so she’s a’goin’ over to Silverstein’s ev’ry night after this to fix up his books.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

spondulix = money. “Spend a little spondulix with the ole woman so’s she won’t kick you out.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

squaw hitch = a knot used in tying a pack on an animal. “That Blackfoot Injun (he was turned into To-Ko, the Human Snake) was a-throwin’ squaw-hitches with hisself.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Sleeper (CC) SriMesh
Standard Sleeper = a train with sleeping berths. “He had all kinds of fool jiggers fer his business, and one of them toot surreys that’s got ingine haidlights and two seats all stuffed with goose feathers and covered with leather—reg’lar Standard Sleeper.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

taffy = insincere and obvious flattery. “That Simpson’s tryin’ t’ cut me out—and so he’s givin’ you all this taffy about your voice.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

thirst parlor = a saloon. “Hank kept sober just five hours. Then he got loose from Hairoil and made fer a thirst-parlour.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

turnip = an old-fashioned watch. “I looked at my nickel turnip. It was five-thirty.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

two-forty = traveling quickly; of a horse, trotting a mile in two minutes and forty seconds. “Bergin was makin’ fer the freight shed, two-forty.” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

vent brand = a brand that cancels out the brand of a previous owner. “D’you think I was a-goin’ to stand by and see a tin-horn proposition like that Noo York Simpson put a vent brand on her?” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

yap = a contemptible person, irrespective of class or background. “He’d said oncet that he was a-goin’ t’ marry me off. So why didn’t I ketch on! Wal, I shore was a yap!” Eleanor Gates, Alec Lloyd, Cowpuncher.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: Adeline Knapp, The Well in the Desert (1908)

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