The Baron of Coyote River Glossary
Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.
angoras: chaps (leather leggings the cowboy wears to protect his legs) made of goat hide with the hair left on.
barker: a gun.
batwings: long chaps (leather leggings the cowboy wears to protect his legs) with big flaps of leather. They usually fasten with rings and snaps.
beller: bellow; to emit a hollow, loud animal cry.
blow “charge”: to sound a bugle call that signals cavalry to go into battle.
bunghole: the hole in a liquid-tight barrel. The hole is capped with a large corklike object called a bung.
bung starter: a wooden mallet used for tapping on the bung (cork or stopper) to loosen it from a barrel.
calaboose: a jail.
carbines: short light rifles, originally used by soldiers on horses.
cayuse: used by the northern cowboy in referring to any horse. At first the term was used for the Western horse to set it apart from a horse brought overland from the East. Later the name was applied as a term of contempt to any scrubby, undersized horse. Named after the Cayuse Indian tribe.
chuck wagon: a mess wagon of the cow country. It is usually made by fitting, at the back end of an ordinary farm wagon, a large box that contains shelves and has a hinged lid fitted with legs that serves as a table when lowered. The chuck wagon is a cowboy’s home on the range, where he keeps his bedroll and dry clothes, gets his food and has a warm fire.
Colt: a single-action, six-shot cylinder revolver, most commonly available in .45- or .44-caliber versions. It was first manufactured in 1873 for the Army by the Colt Firearms Company, the armory founded by American inventor Samuel Colt (1814–1862) who revolutionized the firearms industry with the invention of the revolver. The Colt, also known as the Peacemaker, was also made available to civilians. As a reliable, inexpensive and popular handgun among cowboys, it became known as the “cowboy’s gun” and a symbol of the Old West.
concha: a disk, traditionally of hammered silver and resembling a shell or flower, used as a decoration piece on belts, harnesses, etc.
coup stick: a stick with which some North American Indian warriors sought to touch their enemies in battle as a sign of courage.
cow town: a town at the end of the trail from which cattle were shipped; later applied to towns in the cattle country that depended upon the cowman and his trade for their existence.
cyanide: an extremely poisonous compound. It is used in mining as a method of extracting gold and other metals from raw ore. Cyanide is applied to the ore, where it bonds with microscopic flecks of gold that are then recovered from the cyanide solution.
’dobe: short for adobe; a building constructed with sun-dried bricks made from clay.
dry washes: dry stream beds, as at the bottom of a canyon.
end man: a man at each end of the line of performers in a minstrel show who engages in comic banter with the master of ceremonies. A minstrel show is a comic variety show presenting jokes, songs, dances and skits, usually by white actors in blackface.
fan: to fire a series of shots (from a single-action revolver) by holding the trigger back and successively striking the hammer to the rear with the free hand.
faro: a gambling game played with cards and popular in the American West of the nineteenth century. In faro, the players bet on the order in which the cards will be turned over by the dealer. The cards were kept in a dealing box to keep track of the play.
fork: mount (a horse).
foundered: gone lame.
four-flushing: fake, phony or fraudulent; characteristic of someone who bluffs or otherwise can’t back up his bragging.
G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
gold-chased revolvers: gold-engraved metal, as ornamentation on a gun.
hair pants: chaps (leather leggings the cowboy wears to protect his legs) made with hair-covered hide.
Hannibal: (247–183 BC) Carthaginian general (the ancient city of Carthage was on the coast of North Africa) whose march on Rome from Spain across the Alps remains one of the greatest feats in military history.
hard-boiled shirt: clean shirt; also called a “boiled collar shirt” as the removable collar was often boiled clean, separately, to allow for an extra day or two’s wear. The collars were often stiff and uncomfortable because they were heavily starched.
Henry: the first rifle to use a cartridge with a metallic casing rather than the undependable, self-contained powder, ball and primer of previous rifles. It was named after B. Tyler Henry, who designed the rifle and the cartridge.
Henrys: cartridges designed by B. Tyler Henry for use in the Henry rifle. The metallic cartridge case, made of copper or brass, had the primer inside a folded rim and contained 25 grains of gunpowder.
hog leg: another name for the popular Colt revolver also known as the Peacemaker.
hogshead: a large barrel or cask with a capacity ranging from 63 to 140 gallons.
hogtied: tied up with all four hands and feet together.
hombres: men, especially in the Southwest. Sometimes it implies rough fellows, toughs; often it means real men.
hone: to yearn; long.
howitzers: cannons that have comparatively short barrels, used especially for firing shells at a high angle of elevation for a short range, as for reaching a target behind cover or in a trench.
Hudson Bay: a large inland sea in the northeast of Canada. On the east it is connected with the Atlantic Ocean and on the north with the Arctic Ocean.
iron: a handgun, especially a revolver.
Laredo: a city of southern Texas on the Rio Grande.
lariat: a long noosed rope used for catching horses, cattle, etc.; lasso.
light out: to leave quickly; depart hurriedly.
lights: to land; come to rest.
lobo: wolf; one who is regarded as predatory, greedy and fierce.
lobo wolf: gray wolf.
longhorn: a mean and temperamental person, from the name given the early cattle of Texas because of the enormous spread of their horns that served for attack and defense. Longhorns were not only mean, but the slightest provocation, especially with a bull, would turn them into an aggressive and dangerous enemy. Used figuratively here.
lucifer: a match.
macheer: a type of saddle with a mochila (Spanish for knapsack), a covering of leather that fits over the top of the saddle. Attached to the mochila were four boxes of hard leather used for transport of letters. The design allowed for easy and quick removal and placement on a fresh horse at remount stations, or if the horse were killed, the rider could strip the mochila and walk to the next station.
man alive: used as an intensive or exclamation.
minstrel show: a comic variety show presenting jokes, songs, dances and skits, usually by white actors in blackface.
monte: a card game in which two cards are chosen from four laid out face up, and a player bets that one of the two cards will be matched in suit by the dealer before the other one.
muleskinner: someone who drives mules.
nest: a place where something bad flourishes.
Nevadas: Sierra Nevada mountain range of eastern California, extending between the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and the Nevada border.
opines: thinks; supposes.
Peacemaker: nickname for the single-action (that is, cocked by hand for each shot), six-shot Army model revolver first produced in 1873 by the Colt Firearms Company, the armory founded by Samuel Colt (1814–1862). The handgun of the Old West, it became the instrument of both lawmaker and lawbreaker during the last twenty-five years of the nineteenth century. It soon earned various names, such as “hog leg,” “Equalizer,” and “Judge Colt and his jury of six.”
Pecos: a city in western Texas and near the southern border of New Mexico.
pemmican: a traditional native North American food made with strips of lean dried meat pounded into a paste, mixed with melted fat and dried berries or fruits and pressed into small cakes.
Pike’s Peak: a mountain, 14,110 feet high, in the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado.
plugged peso: a worthless coin.
port: the position of a rifle or other weapon when it is held with both hands in a slanting direction across the front of the body, with the barrel near the left shoulder.
postin’: posting; rising and sinking in the saddle, in accordance with the motion of the horse, especially in trotting while riding using an English saddle.
puncher: a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback.
quirt: a riding whip with a short handle and a braided leather lash.
remuda: a group of saddle horses from which ranch hands pick mounts for the day.
riata: a long noosed rope used to catch animals.
rimfire saddle: a saddle with one cinch that is placed far to the front; also called a Spanish rig or rimmy.
romals: extensions to the reins that function as riding whips.
rowels: the small spiked revolving wheels on the ends of spurs, which are attached to the heels of a rider’s boots and used to nudge a horse into going faster.
running irons: branding irons that are not bent into the shape of the mark, but rather require the user to write the desired brand.
saddle boot: a close-fitting covering or case for a gun or other weapon that straps to a saddle.
Saint Peter: the most prominent of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.
sandbox: a primitive sort of spittoon, consisting of a wooden box filled with sand.
scabby: covered with scabs, short, flat pieces of wood used for binding two pieces of timber that are butted together, or for strengthening timber at weak spots.
scatter-gun: a cowboy’s name for a shotgun.
Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.
scrappin’: scrapping; disagreeing; fighting.
Sharps: any of several models of firearms devised by Christian Sharps and produced by the Sharps Rifle Company until 1881. The most popular Sharps were “Old Reliable,” the cavalry carbine, and the heavy-caliber, single-shot buffalo-hunting rifle. Because of its low muzzle velocity, this gun was said to “fire today, kill tomorrow.”
shootin’ irons: handguns.
shorthorn: a tenderfoot; a newcomer or a person not used to rough living and hardships.
Sierras: Sierra Nevada mountain range of eastern California extending between the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and the Nevada border.
slick-ear: 1. a range animal lacking an earmark; an unbranded and unmarked animal. 2. “wet behind the ears”; someone who is inexperienced or naïve.
sougan: bedroll; a blanket or quilt with a protective canvas tarp for use on a bunk or on the range.
sowbelly: salt pork; pork cured in salt, especially fatty pork from the back, side or belly of a hog.
Stetson: as the most popular broad-brimmed hat in the West, it became the generic name for hat. John B. Stetson was a master hat maker and founder of the company that has been making Stetsons since 1865. Not only can the Stetson stand up to a terrific amount of beating, the cowboy’s hat has more different uses than any other garment he wears. It keeps the sun out of the eyes and off the neck; it serves as an umbrella; it makes a great fan, which sometimes is needed when building a fire or shunting cattle about; the brim serves as a cup to water oneself, or as a bucket to water the horse or put out the fire.
stint: restrain; restrict.
string: a group of animals, especially saddle horses, owned or used by one person.
tapaderos: heavy leather around the front of stirrups to protect the rider’s foot.
taps: a bugle call or drum signal sounded at military funerals and memorial services.
teamsters: individuals who drive a team of horses, especially in hauling freight.
trail herd: a herd of cattle driven along a trail, especially from their home range to market.
Waterloo, had his: variation of “meet your Waterloo,” meaning that one who has previously been successful has been defeated by someone who is too strong for one. It comes from the “Battle of Waterloo,” fought in 1815, which was Napoleon’s last battle. This defeat put a final end to his rule.
wet gunnysacking: a branding technique used by rustlers. Branding is done through a wet gunnysack, making a temporary brand that looks permanent.
whittled: carved something out of wood, usually something small enough to hold in the hand, by cutting away small pieces.
wolfer: a man hired by a rancher to trap and hunt wolves on his range.
wrangler: a cowboy who takes care of the saddle horses.