Saturday, October 18, 2014

Glossary additions

Just in…25 more words for the Glossary of Frontier Fiction. These are from Wilson M. Hudson’s collection of Andy Adams campfire stories.

big auger = the big boss. “I’m not afraid of any man in your outfit, from the gimlet to the big auger.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

Black Book = the Texas Rangers’ list of fugitives, published annually. “We looked the ‘Black Book’ over afterward for any description of him. At that time, there were over four thousand criminals and outlaws described in it.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

bobble = jerky, jumpy movement. “We had several bobbles crossing that strip of country; nothing bad, just jump and run a mile or so, and then mill until daylight.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

boomer = a booster for settling lands, especially Indian lands, before it became legal. “I always was such a poor hand afoot that I passed up that country, and here I am a ’boomer’.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

cárcel = jail, prison (from Spanish). “As night set in, we approached the cárcel. The turnkey answered our questions very politely through a grated iron door.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

coffin varnish = liquor. “If there was any one thing that he shone in, it was rustling coffin varnish during the early prohibition days along the Kansas border.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

’dobe / dobe = the Mexican silver dollar (from Spanish, adobe). “Uncle Sam’s strongbox yielded up over a thousand dobes.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

flint = a cowskin. “They headed him for our herd, the flint thumping at his heels.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

gimlet = a rider so poorly experienced he makes a horse’s back sore. “I’m not afraid of any man in your outfit, from the gimlet to the big auger.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

keep a weather eye open = to stay alert. “Surrounded as he was by other horses, he kept his weather eye open for a race.” Andy Adams, The Log of a Cowboy.

ladino = said of a horse or cow in possession of crafty intelligence (from Spanish). “Pasquale had watched the band for an hour, and described the ladino stallion as a cinnamon-colored coyote, splendidly proportioned and unusually large for a mustang.” Andy Adams, A Texas Matchmaker.

ladrón = robber, thief (from Spanish, pl. ladrones) . “All they could tell us was that there was plenty of ladrones and lots of horses.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

leña = firewood (from Spanish). “That’s right, Tiburcio, carry up plenty of good leña.” Andy Adams, A Texas Matchmaker.

manada = herd (from Spanish). “Pasquale reported on his return after dark that the manada were contentedly feeding on their accustomed range within three miles of camp.” Andy Adams, A Texas Matchmaker.

on the prod = on the attack, on the offensive. “At this the Val Verde boy got on the prod slightly, and expressed himself, saying, ‘Why don’t you have two of the other boys count them?’” Andy Adams, The Outlet.

on the tapis = of a subject under discussion. “Whenever there was anything on the tapis, he always got the word for himself and friends.” Andy Adams, The Log of a Cowboy.

parker = a bed comforter. “He whispered to his two big nurses to prop him up. They did so with pillows and parkers.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

peeler = a cowboy, horse breaker; a man who skins cows. “About two o’clock Doc Langford and two of his peelers were seen riding up.” Andy Adams, The Log of a Cowboy.

pot hound = a dog of indeterminate breed, a mongrel. “Common old pot hounds and everyday yellow dogs have gone out of style entirely.” Andy Adams, The Log of a Cowboy.

slash = an area of debris left by logging. “He had something treed about a mile from the house, across a ridge over in some slashes.” Andy Adams, The Outlet.

squaw winter = a spell of wintery weather preceding Indian summer. “Up in that country they have Indian summer and squaw winter, both in the fall.” Andy Adams, The Outlet.

Strip, the = the Oklahoma Panhandle; part of the Texas Republic until 1850 and known officially as the Public Land Strip until attached to Oklahoma Territory in 1890. “The cattle were in charge of Ike Inks as foreman, and had been sold for delivery somewhere in the Strip.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

throw off = to speak offhandedly. “Those two boys were not throwing off on each other—not a little bit. They meant every word and meant it deep.” Andy Adams, Cattle Brands.

Further reading/viewing:

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: TBD


  1. Throw off. I still use that phrase that way. Black book. There's something I didn't know.

  2. Ladron(es) is/was used frequently in the movies. "Pot hound" still used. Thanks for more of the cowboy slang.

  3. On the tapis -- literally on the carpet.One wonders how it found its way into the vocabulary of the far West.

    1. Indeed. Adams grew up on a farm in Indiana; then worked as a cowhand in Texas.

  4. Really like the last one, "These two boys were not throwing off each other - not a little bit. They meant every word and meant it deep." Liked the entire context. And we had a lot of slash the loggers had to burn when the logged our woods.

  5. Ron, you used to have your reviews indexed by states, which I found easy to search. Did you remove that cross-reference?

  6. I took it out a while ago, but you can enter a state name in the search box at the top of the page (on the left) and get the same results.

  7. Glad you included, "on the prod," so I was sure of at least one of these. Another entertaining list