When it comes to vocabulary, you could say the cowboy tends to have a rather colorful one. However, I've listed a few words he has retired (or perhaps never used much in the first place).
This is a word that was used in the early days of cattle ranching, but fell out of favor fairly early on. Unlike many cowboy words that originated from Spanish descent, this one came from the Portuguese word, “laco,” meaning “to snare.” With the exception of a few California stockmen who continued to use it, the word “lasso” was replaced with “rope” within a few short years of its introduction around the late 1800s to early 1900s. This fact makes the popularity of “lasso” among city slickers, especially journalists, in this day and age even more baffling. Bottom line, a rope is a rope. Acceptable variations include “lariat,” “lass rope” and “twine,” but never “lasso.”
2. Bucking Bronco:
Another word that originated in the late 1800’s was “bronco,” derived from the Spanish word “potro bronco” meaning “untamed colt.” The “o” was quickly dropped and “bronc” is the word still used today. If you go to a rodeo, you will see two “bronc” riding events, bareback bronc riding and saddle bronc riding. However, if you hear just “bronc riding,” this is normally a reference to “saddle bronc riding,” whereas bareback bronc riding is simply known as “bareback riding.” Likewise, saddle bronc riders are referred to as “bronc riders” and bareback riders are known as such. Just forget “bucking,”drop the “o” from bronco.
This one is a little confusing. Most cowboy newbies pronounce the word “ch-aps” like “chapstick.” This is improper pronunciation of the word. It is actually pronounced “sh-aps.” As in, “Chantilly”. And the short, knee or shin length chaps cowboys wear? Well, those are called “chinks,” pronounced exactly like you think it would be.
4. Cowboy Up:
Cowboys aren’t really much for following the crowd. If they were, they would be far less mysterious and cool. So, you may still hear this phrase tossed around occasionally, but likely more as a catchy story headline than a jolt of encouragement behind the bucking chutes.
I looked this up in Webster’s online dictionary and it is actually a word, spelled giddyap. Meaning: to go ahead or go faster. Now, I have been around cowboys my whole entire life and I have never (not once) heard a cowboy say “giddy-up.” Although I am not sure what the precise origin of the word is, I have heard speculation that it may come from the draft horse driving command “gee up,” which means “go faster.” The only person I recall ever using is a parent sitting a toddler on a rocking horse.
For more cowboy speak, catch Pro-Rodeo interviews on ESPN.