Alright these explanations of a cowboy are just sad.
A cowboy is one of many things, or, where I come from they're alot of different things.

  • A cowboy generally is yes, someone who is the lowest form of life on a ranch, not always doing the smartest thing, but doing that which seems to be right, and most effective at getting the job done. You just can't see him from the road.
  • A Rodeo hand. These are the types most people see, running around town in their trucks, these are the types of people I wandered around with in high school and wrote poems about (to see these go to my home-node). These people are bull-riders, bronco-busters, calf-ropers, steer-wrestlers, or barrel racers. The latter however tend more often to be cowgirls.
  • A person who owns cattle.
  • A fence rider. Someone who from dust 'til dawn rides on his horse and tends to the fence line.
  • A horse raiser. Where I'm from there are lots of these. Give a man a rope and a horse and he's a cowboy.(yeah right) the real cowboy in that story will be the man who breaks that horse, making it rideable for the poor saddle-sore chap who bought it.
  • A cowboy these days however seems to be anyone who welcomes this title.

9 times out of 10 a real cowboy will never brag about being a cowboy, he'll let you figure that out yourself. I bet no more than a handful of people who read this have ever actually seen a REAL cowboy.

cow orker = C = CP/M

cowboy n.

[Sun, from William Gibson's cyberpunk SF] Synonym for hacker. It is reported that at Sun this word is often said with reverence.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Cowboys, in the American Revolution, a band of American Tories who infested the neutral ground of Westchester County, N.Y., robbed the Whigs and Loyalists, and made a specialty of stealing cattle. The word cowboys is now used to designate the men who have charge of the cattle on the vast ranges in the W. and S.W. of the United States. Many of them were enlisted in two regiments of cavalry for the war with Spain, and, under the popular name of "Rough Riders," greatly distinguished themselves in the early part of the campaign against Santiago, in Cuba.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

A colloquial and unkind term used to describe tradespeople, agents and other people you may have a business relationship with, who are are shady, unskilled, unprofessional or simply do not deliver. Even if your plumber is a well intentioned old fellow who just unfortunately flooded your dining room because he twisted a tap in the wrong direction, the description applies as it describes incompetence rather than a lack of moral fibre (although it is arguably unethical to accept a job you cannot carry out).

The association between America's legendary Colt-wielding ranchers and this less flattering definition could be based on both cowboys and less established tradespeople tending to talk big, work alone and have a checkered employment history.

Interestingly, I have not heard Americans link their national icon to reckless plasterers or clueless DBAs. It could be because the more orderly Europeans see cowboys in a different light. The British and Spanish colonists fought with these mercenaries in two separate wars. Nazi and Communist propaganda often portrayed cowboys as a belligerent, individualistic and undisciplined caricature of Americans.

Cow"boy` (-boi`), n.

1.

A cattle herder; a drover; specifically, one of an adventurous class of herders and drovers on the plains of the Western and Southwestern United States.

2.

One of the marauders who, in the Revolutionary War infested the neutral ground between the American and British lines, and committed depredations on the Americans.

 

© Webster 1913.

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