0

Depending on where you are regionally located in the US, can these terms be used just about interchangeably in the sense "a hired hand (a cowhand) who tends cattle and performs many of his duties on horseback"?

In addition, can any of these terms be used interchangeably to refer to cowboys in western movies? Or to historical cowboys and gunslingers back in the old days when people had to rely on horses to carry them?

By the way, how come mature cowboys in horse operas are not referred to as cowmen but still as cowboys?

  • My younger life was spent partially on ranches. Don't want to answer this because that was a while ago. But these were all very different to me. Each of the words you have on here has its own definition. – RyeɃreḁd Mar 7 '14 at 16:53
  • What research have you done so far? – choster Mar 7 '14 at 16:53
  • 1
    I would have thought that if you asked every single person in the US today "What's your job?", the only one of OP's alternatives that might occur in any but a facetious reply would be wrangler. And they'd nearly all be people using it in the sense of a person who handles or controls animals involved in the making of a film or television programme – FumbleFingers Mar 7 '14 at 17:06
  • 1
    There's no such thing as exact synonyms..every word may have a literal denotation, but the appropriate contexts where it could be used differ. So the direct answer is to all these questions of yours "No, these are not 'just about interchangable'." You need to ask your question as to what are the differences. – Mitch Mar 7 '14 at 17:11
  • 1
    None of these names would have anything near the significance they do today were it not for Hollywood. In the 19th century all those same agricultural jobs existed in Britain, but you won't find them in the novels of Thomas Hardy. There were shepherds and ploughmen, and cow-hands,drovers and milk-maids etc. Clearly those occupations will have been taken to the Americas. But the references to cowboys in the OED is sparse, the first being in 1849 when some Mexican 'rancheros' were attacked by 'cow-boys'. – WS2 Mar 7 '14 at 21:22
0

Depending on where you are regionally located in the US, can these terms be used just about interchangeably in the sense "a hired hand (a cowhand) who tends cattle and performs many of his duties on horseback"?

Basically, yes. Of course, like many regional terms, additional associations may be held from region to region, sometimes changing drastically. In my experience, "cowboy" is the most general of the terms in English-speaking parts of the US. "Vaquero" (derived from the Spanish "vaca" for cow) and "caballero" (derived from the Spanish "caballo" for horse) are more commonly encountered in the US in places with a greater Spanish-speaking population. (Side note: the term "buckaroo" is an Anglicized spelling of the Spanish pronunciation of "vaquero.")

In addition, can any of these terms be used interchangeably to refer to cowboys in western movies? Or to historical cowboys and gunslingers back in the old days when people had to rely on horses to carry them?

Not really; the terms all refer to people who handle and drive cattle. Just because people rode horses in the "Old West" didn't make them a cowboy, just like riding a horse in medieval Europe didn't make made a person a knight. In short, not only cowboys rode horses. To wit: cavalrymen and pony express riders. Nor were cows the only things that people herded from horseback in the Old West.

1

I can answer the "boy"-part. In south Ireland, where I'm located. Any man can be addressed colloquially as boy. Both women and men and boys and girls use this. This is just as it is.

The meaning I think is just that it's more informal term than man. Also I think that as soon as you become a man you no longer are a cow-boy but a rancher or a herd-owner.

So boy would also imply a status symbol. The cow-boys afaik usually don't own the cows, but are just herding them.

The other question if the other terms can be used interchangeably? I'd say no, at least not internationally. As I have not heard any of them in that context before. (I'm German)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.