buckaroo

[ buhk-uh-roo, buhk-uh-roo ]
/ ˈbʌk əˌru, ˌbʌk əˈru /

noun, plural buck·a·roos.

Western U.S. a cowboy, especially a broncobuster.
Older Slang. fellow; guy.

QUIZZES

HEED THE VOX POPULI, AND TAKE THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!

Test your memory on these verbal firecrackers from the week of June 29 to July 5!
Question 1 of 7
anchorite

Origin of buckaroo

1820–30, Americanism; earlier bakhara, baccaro, bucharo < Spanish vaquero, equivalent to vac(a) cow (< Latin vacca) + -ero < Latin -ārius -ary; perhaps influenced by buckra; later probably reanalyzed as buck1 + -eroo
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does buckaroo mean?

Buckaroo is another word for a cowboy.

In its most traditional sense, the word cowboy refers to a man who herds and tends cattle on a ranch, especially in the western United States. Cowboys do most of their work on horseback, and buckaroo especially refers to a cowboy considered a broncobuster—meaning one who “breaks in” (tames) broncos and other wild horses so that they can be ridden.

Buckaroo is also an older slang term used as a way to refer to a man, much like how the words guy and dude are used, as in Hey, buckaroo, what’s new with you? 

Example: When I went through a Wild West phase as a kid, I dreamed of living the life of a buckaroo on the range.

Where does buckaroo come from?

The word buckaroo sounds like it might come from some variation of the term bucking bronco, but it actually comes from a corruption of the Spanish word vaquero, which essentially means “cowboy” (the Spanish word for “cow” is vaca). Cowboys in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America were called vaqueros, and the term caught on in the Southwestern U.S. around the 1820s. The word didn’t go straight from vaquero to buckaroo—earlier versions of the word were bakhara, baccaro, and bucharo. The slangy ending eroo, as seen in words like switcheroo and smackeroo, may have originated with buckaroo.

Buckaroo isn’t likely to be used literally to refer to a ranch hand anymore. Because of its link to the stereotypical image of a rough-riding cowboy, buckaroo has been used to refer to a reckless person—in much the same way that cowboy can, such as when referring to a reckless driver. It’s perhaps most commonly used today as a silly term of address, as in Howdy, buckaroos, long time no see—though this isn’t all that common either.

You might also see the word buckaroo used as a slang term for a dollar, based on the slang term buck(s), as in Sure, I can spare a few buckaroos for my favorite nephew.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for buckaroo?

What are some words that share a root or word element with buckaroo

 

 

What are some words that often get used in discussing buckaroo?

 

How is buckaroo used in real life?

Buckaroo isn’t used nearly as commonly as cowboy, but it still often calls to mind images of the Old West.

 

 

Try using buckaroo!

True or False? 

The word buckaroo is based on the word bronco.

Example sentences from the Web for buckaroo

  • They go and throw every Tom, Dick, and Harry in this here cell, and some buckaroo has half tore up the mattress.

    The Dude Wrangler|Caroline Lockhart

British Dictionary definitions for buckaroo

buckaroo
/ (ˈbʌkəˌruː, ˌbʌkəˈruː) /

noun plural -roos

Southwestern US a cowboy

Word Origin for buckaroo

C19: variant of Spanish vaquero, from vaca cow, from Latin vacca
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012