Fun with Cowboy Slang

Even after penning over thirty-five contemporary western books, I still wind up doing some kind of research for every one. Just when I think I know all there is to know about rodeoing or ranching or horse training, I come to a part in the story where I have to stop and pull out a reference book or go online. Every now and then, I decide to write about something completely unfamiliar to me, like quarter horse racing or therapy animals or infectious bovine diseases.

In an attempt to make my western characters sound authentic when they speak, I have a long (and constantly growing) list of cowboy phrases and slang. I share some of them with you today.

Airing the Lungs - cussing
Barking at a Knot - doing something useless
Best Big and Tucker - best clothes
Choke Strap - a necktie
Chew Gravel - thrown from a horse
Eatin’ Irons - silverware
Flannel Mouth - fancy talker
Hoosegow - jail
Odd Stick - eccentric person
Pull in Your Horns - quit looking for trouble
Roostered - drunk
Squinny - to cause a laugh
Taradiddles - Falsehoods, traveler’s yarns or tales
Too Much Mustard - a braggart
Wobblin’ jaw - talks to much

What do you say, just for fun, let's play a game. Try and guess the meaning of “Scratching Rake” and post your answer below. Now, no Googling. If you don’t know the meaning, just make your best guess 

So, who wants to go first? Let’s get a "wiggle on" !


  1. I'd probably guess a comb, or maybe a pitchfork?

  2. Oh wow. I'm going to guess it is something that has more than 1 use. :/

  3. I'm waiting for a few more guesses before telling :)

  4. Ha ha! I love this post. Okay, the first thing I thought was something that makes you scratch your head - so something about being confused?

  5. I like the post, too. Some of those things are way familiar even in the Midwest--best bib and tucker, especially. But scratching rake...I think I'm going to copy Beth and say comb. It makes me think of scratching your back on a door frame, but there's no "rake" involved there.

  6. I’m late to this post (weekend company who stayed!) but love those expressions and scratching get at those hard to each places on a cow? 😜😜

  7. Or maybe a garden tool, a cultivator? Like a small rake with curved tines for scratching the ground?

  8. Okay, the answer is a comb. Good job to those who guessed right!!


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