noun, plural buck·a·roos.
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Words nearby buckaroo
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.
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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.
Buckaroo Betty (Mrs. Grindstaff) in action, reading to students at the Wild West Book Fair. Yee haw! pic.twitter.com/bGVo2F0e9v
— West School Dist 47 (@D47West) September 1, 2017
I can't not be my happy-go-lucky, tryna keep positive, morning self.
Cheer up, buckaroos! We ARE going to get through this!
— PixieDustNo.5 (@DustNo5) April 30, 2020
petition to change united states currency to "buckaroos"
— Savannah Seymour (@savannahseymour) May 17, 2020
Try using buckaroo!
True or False?
The word buckaroo is based on the word bronco.