A Maverick is defined as a nonconformist. Usually a person with unorthodox or independent views.

It’s an eponymous word after Samuel Maverick (1803-1870), a Texas rancher who chose not to brand his cattle. As mayor of San Antonio in the mid- 1800's the small town politician accepted a herd of 400 cattle in 1847 in payment of a debt but left them in the care of one of his men who allowed the steers to roam on his ranch unbranded. One can almost hear the locals upon discovering one of these roving unbranded livestock. ”Oh, that’s one of Maverick’s” which probably became shortened to, “That’s a Maverick.”

From then on any unbranded cow, steer, and especially calves that grow up and became separated from their mothers without a brand to tell who owns them has been dubbed a Maverick.

During the early 1800’s in the United States ownership of cattle was determined by the brand, so the name mavericks came to be given to all unmarked calves caught when straying from the herd. Neglected and allowed to run wild, these calves were rounded up and branded by other ranchers. Because the range was large, a few cattle more or less made little difference to the big ranchmen.

The practice, though dishonest, soon became generally accepted on the range. As this became a customary way of life, many newcomers to the West were able to accumulate a herd "with nothing but a branding iron." First recorded 1886, as the notion of "masterless" and then eventually leading to independent minded humans, became known as mavericks.

In 1957 Mr. Maverick's name was borrowed by the producers of the classic "Maverick" TV show with the enduring James Garner as the starring character. Along with a couple of brothers named Maverick, they all lived by their wits in the Wild West.

You might be interested to know that Maury Maverick Sam Maverick's grandson, served in the U.S. House of Representatives during World War I and coined another splendid word "gobbledygook".


Online Etymology Dictionary:

Word Detective:

AGM-65 Air-to-ground missile, nicknamed Maverick.
Comes in a helluva lot of variants.

M A V E R I C K (movie: 1994)

I'm usually quick on the draw with a cynical voice when I hear they are remaking an old movie, or even worse, an old TV show. All I can think of is cheesiness, outdated subject matter, and actors that can in no way capture the spirit of the original. Thankfully, sometimes I can be surprised.

OK, so I'm a sucker for a Mel Gibson action flick, as they always seem to include a healthy dose of comedy that Gibson is able to pull of without leaving me cringing. So when the tried-and-true Lethal Weapon team of Richard Donner and Mel Gibson came out with a remake of the satirical western, Maverick, I didn't run screaming in fear. I'll admit it, I was even intrigued, having enjoyed westerns like Silverado and Young Guns. Sure, I realize this dates me as a youngun, with no true appreciation for the classics, but there it is.

Mel Gibson plays Bret Maverick, the not-so-traditional western hero who lives off of his luck and cunning. A self-titled coward, Bret will either trick his way out of a fight or just plain run. However, in the movie we get to see that in reality he kicks more-than-a-little ass, and his downplaying works more as a cover. The beginning of the movie sees him joined by Annabel Bransford (Jodie Foster) as a beautiful con-artist with her own set of deviant talents, one of which is the ability to affect a variety of accents. The tried-and-true love/hate relationship scores laughter again, and Gibson and Foster are truly enjoyable to watch together on-screen. The third major character to round out the cast is the original Maverick, James Garner. In this run he plays standup lawman Marshal Zane Cooper, or so it seems at first. It turns out that everyone in the movie seems to have a couple aces hidden up their sleeves, and it is this ability to keep you guessing that makes Maverick shine. It's a fun action-adventure with some well delivered comedy, but the plot is also stellar enough to make repeat-viewings enjoyable.

Donner enjoys incorporating a couple parodies of past movies, both his and others. Danny Glover makes a cameo appearance as a bank-robber and when he crosses paths with Maverick, each does a slow double take while that bluesey guitar riff from Lethal Weapon is played. Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves) plays his, somewhat type-cast at this point, role of a native-american, but this time he gets to cheat and trick the white-man on numerous occasions.

I'll try to give a quick plot summary without too many spoilers, as towards the end of the movie you get to enjoy some interesting plot twists. Bret Maverick starts out the movie pondering his bad turn of luck in recent days, culminating in his current situation sitting atop his horse, a noose around his neck - the other end tied to a tree - with multiple rattlesnakes scattered about. About half the movie then, is a flashback. Bret is attempting to put together a $25,000 entry fee in order to join the highest stakes poker game in the West. Cooper, Bransford and Maverick join forces in a round-about fashion en route to the game. Just exactly what each characters motivations are in going is part of the fun of the plot, so watch the movie if you want to be filled in.

Director - Richard Donner
Producer - Bruce Davey and Richard Donner
Screenplay - William Goldman based on the TV show created by Roy Huggins
Cinematography - Vilmos Zsigmond
Music - Randy Newman
U.S. Distributor - Warner Brothers


Mel Gibson - Bret Maverick, Jr.
Jodie Foster - Mrs. Annabelle Bransford
James Garner - Marshal Zane Cooper/Bret Maverick, Sr.
Graham Greene - Joseph
Alfred Molina - Angel
James Coburn - Commodore Duvall, Owner of Riverboat
Lauren Belle - Poker Championship Host
Dub Taylor - Room Clerk
Geoffrey Lewis - Matthew Wicker/Eugene, Banker
Paul L. Smith - The Archduke
Dan Hedaya - Twitchy, Riverboat Poker Player
Dennis Fimple - Stuttering
Denver Pyle - Old Gambler on Riverboat
Clint Black - Sweet-Faced Gambler
Max Perlich - Johnny Hardin
Art LaFleur - Poker Player

Running Time: 127 min. - Rated PG

"Maverick" TV-Series (1957-1962)

Put together a family of gamblers whose names all start with the letter b, give them a cool attitude and last name, and then let go of any traditional ideas about the Western. Maverick started out as a drama on ABC but quickly found its satirical voice and poked fun at such westerns as Gunsmoke and Bonanza. The show was also known to include cameos of stars known for other roles such as 77 Sunset Strip's Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and even Clint Eastwood.

The show mainly consisted of the adventures of brothers Bret and Bart Maverick as they traveled from town to town making a living (and a life) out of card playing. They were loathe to work a day's labor and were quick to hightail it out of town as soon as trouble breathed down their necks. The show would focus on different Mavericks for any given episode, which increasingly included younger brother Brent and English cousin Beau Maverick when James Garner left the show in 1960. Since its demise in 1962 Maverick has enjoyed a significant cult following and is widely syndicated. It has fostered such spin-offs as Young Maverick and Bret Maverick as well as the same-titled 1994 movie starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and James Garner, reprising a slightly different role.

Theme Song
Who is the tall, dark stranger there?
Maverick is the name.
Ridin' the trail to who knows where,
Luck is his companion,
Gamblin' is his game.
Smooth as the handle on a gun.
Maverick is the name.
Wild as the wind in Oregon,
Blowin' up a canyon,
Easier to tame.

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Annabel.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the west.

Riverboat, ring your bell,
Fare thee well, Annabel.
Luck is the lady that he loves the best.
Natchez to New Orleans
Livin' on jacks and queens
Maverick is a legend of the West.
Maverick is a legend of the West.

Executive Producer - William T. Orr
Creator - Roy Huggins


James Garner - Bret Maverick (1957-60; 55 episodes)
Jack Kelly - Bart Maverick (1957-62)
Robert Colbert - Brent Maverick (1961)
Diane Brewster - Samantha Crawford (1957-58)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. - Dandy Jim Buckley (1957-58)
Richard Long - Gentleman Jack Darby (1958-59)
Leo Gordon - Big Mike McComb (1957-59)
Peter Breck - Doc Holliday (1960-62)
Roger Moore - Beau Maverick (1960-1961)
Edwin Reimers - Announcer (voice)

Series ran from 1957-62; 124 episodes


Mav"er*ick (?), n.

In the southwestern part of the united States, a bullock or heifer that has not been branded, and is unclaimed or wild; -- said to be from Maverick, the name of a cattle owner in Texas who neglected to brand his cattle.


© Webster 1913

Mav"er*ick (?), v. t.

To take a maverick. [Western U. S.]


© Webster 1913

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