- 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.
- to work as a cowboy.
Origin of cowboy
Examples from the Web for cowboy
Thus it attracted a wave of cowboy operators to fly passengers and cargo between cities.Who Will Get AsiaAir 8501’s Black Boxes?
December 30, 2014
This explains the crumpled look of his beautiful red velvet suit paired with cowboy boots and a flowery style shirt.Dodo Bones and Kylie’s Poo: Inside London’s Strangest New Museum
November 11, 2014
And he had a cowboy hat that he liked touching, too—he smoothed the brim back like it was a ducktail haircut.The Stacks: Pete Dexter on What It’s Like to Lose the Knack of Having Fun
September 20, 2014
The notion of a “spread”—the mythical Texas ranch that every Texas cowboy hopes for—fueled his imagination.‘The Harness Maker’s Dream:’ The Unlikely Ranch King of Texas
September 20, 2014
George W. Bush is six feet even before slipping on the cowboy boots.For Short Men in 2014, The News Is Surprisingly Good
September 13, 2014
Then you mean to say that every cowboy risks his life in a round-up?A Woman Tenderfoot
Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
It was a cowboy party, and one of the cowboys was Donald Morrison.The Hunted Outlaw
She sent the cowboy to the Cormacks' cottage, to tell Eppie to come to her.Salted With Fire
I was a cow hand—a cowboy—and we did not hold friendship with sheepmen.Louisiana Lou
William West Winter
I was worried; not for myself, you understand, but for that cowboy shover.The Depot Master
Joseph C. Lincoln
- 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
- a person who is an irresponsible or unscrupulous operator in business
- (as modifier)cowboy contractors; cowboy shop steward
- Australian a man or boy who tends cattle
Word Origin and History for cowboy
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.