Under your felt cowboy hat you have a head and that head needs information. Here is a list or glossary of terms and slang used in the Old West.
Apache – one of a warlike Indian tribe famous for travelling light. He was more interested in your scalp than your hat.
Bandana – neckerchief worn round the cowboy’s neck, handy to slip up as a dust filter. Makes your cowboy hat look even better.
Bowie knife – type of knife designed by Jim Bowie later of Alamo fame. He preferred a coon-skin cap.
Bronco – a wild horse often referred to as a “bucking bronco”. You need stampede strings if you want to break one.
Chuck – the grub or food cowboys ate on the trail. Carry your grub away in your hat.
Chuck Wagon – the wagon carrying the grub that accompanied the cattle drove. Wave your hat to stop cookie.
Cutting out – separating calves to be roped and branded.
Dogie – a motherless calf.
Buffalo – bison that roamed the open range and provided food for Indians. The fur can be used to make the felt for your cowboy hat.
Calaboose – the jailhouse. Remove your hat and don’t upset the sheriff.
Colt 45 – six-shot revolver also known as the Peacemaker, with a revolving cylinder holding six rounds. This would blow your head off as well as your Stetson.
Deputy – sheriff’s assistant. His hat would not be as fancy as his boss’s.
Derringer – a type of single-shot pistol favored by professional gambles. Gamblers preferred very stylish hats.
Drawl – slow spoken speech typical of a cowboy. Sounds better coming from under a “Boss of the plains” hat.
Dry gulch – to ambush someone. A broad-brimmed hat shaded the sun and made aiming a gun easier.
Greenhorn – a novice. Probably had fancy hat or bonnet that didn’t suit western conditions.
Holster – leather side pouch to carry a six-gun. A gun and a hat and you are half way to being a cowboy.
Honky-tonk – a saloon in the Old West that provided entertainment usually a piano. Remember to raise your hat to the ladies even if they aren’t very lady-like.
Jangle – noise made by spurs as a cowboy walks. From hat to spurs a cowboy is all man.
Lariat – a rope, from Spanish.
Lasso – to rope, usually a cow or horse.
Marshall – the oldest federal law enforcement office in the U.S. A high crown cowboy hat makes someone look taller and more imposing and this is important to lawmen.
Maverick – an ownerless cow; a wayward person. A black hat baddie.
Muley – a hornless cow. At least it cant gore your head-wear.
Longhorn – a type of cattle with long sweeping horns. Now, it can gore your hat.
Medicine man An Indian shaman or practitioner of Native American medicine. He prefers a feather in his cap.
Packing – carrying a gun as in packing a six-shooter. Packing a hat is different.
Panning – searching for gold with a flat, shallow pan in a stream. Your hat is no good, it would get soggy.
Pommel – projection from front of western saddle with a “horn” to anchor the rope when lassoing cattle. Handy for hanging your Stetson on.
Posse – group of men led by a Marshall in a manhunt. They all wore hats.
Powwow – An Indian name for a discussion or council.
Range – to ride the range, go on horseback across the open prairie. Wind, rain, snow – the broad-brimmed cowboy hat protected the rider.
Renegade – turncoat or traitor, an Indian who has left his tribe. Sometimes Indians wore cowboy hats often with a feather in them.
Rodeo – a sporting event involving horses and cattle to test the skill and speed of cowboys. Without stampede strings your hat wouldn’t stay on.
Roundup – driving all the cattle on a ranch together to tally their numbers. A simple way of keeping a tally is to drop a pebble in a hat as each beast passes.
Rustler – cattle thief often hung when caught. He would probably steal your hat too.
Rye whiskey – a type of spirit distilled from rye grain. Too much of this and you would be likely to loose your mind as well as your hat.
Scalp – to remove the hair and scalp with a knife as a trophy. If you survived you would need a hat permanently.
Sheriff – county law enforcement agent. Always wore a really impressive Stetson.Shindig – a dance or disturbance. People’s hats flying everywhere.
Shindy – a disturbance or fight
Sidekick – friend or companion who accompanied you especially on horseback.
Six-gun – a six shot revolver
Six-shooter – another name for a six-gun. Fills your hat full of lead.
Spurs – device worn on cowboy boots to prick the horses flank to urge it on. Accelerate too quickly and your hat will fly off.
Squaw – a female Indian. Looks really pretty in a good western hat.
Steamboat – A steam powered paddle boat found on rivers like the Mississippi. The captain would likely prefer a peaked cap.
Steer – castrated bull raised for beef.
Stetson – the broad-brimmed felt cowboy hat designed by John B. Stetson.
Teepee – Conical tent used by Indians made from skins and poles. Nowhere to hang your hat!
Tin-horn – a petty braggart, usually applied to a gambler. Probably has a hat far too big and fancy for practical use.
Vaquero – Mexican Spanish for cowboy. He will wear an ornate sombrero.
Winchester – lever-action rifle manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company known as “The Gun that Won the West”. Some say it was the Stetson felt cowboy hat that won it.