What kind of a situation or event might be described as a pinstripe rodeo?

  • 1
    I think it's a good question, if you elaborate on what (if anything) your own efforts at research have found. Did looking up "pinstripe" and "rodeo" help at all, or do you still have questions? Oct 13, 2020 at 18:34
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    I answered as I do not think the metaphorical meaning of pinstripe rodeo can necessarily be grasped from the dictionary definitions of its components, particularly pinstripe, which is something I primarily associate with baseball. Voted to re-open.
    – choster
    Oct 13, 2020 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


A rodeo as you may know is a show or competition involving bullriding, calf-roping, steer wrestling, and the like, descended from traditional "cowboy" skills and activities in western North America. This has given birth to widespread figurative use in the U.S. and Canada as any kind of spectacle, especially if it is energetic and unpredictable, and the expression not my first rodeo, where one is dismissing another's concern about inexperience or naivete, popularized by the 1981 film Mommie Dearest (which has nothing to do with cowboys or rodeos).

Circus and carnival have similar uses, but in my view more strongly connote silliness or unseriousness than boisterousness. The conceit at the circus is that the lions are tamed. The conceit at the rodeo is that the broncos are not.

Pinstripe refers to a cloth pattern of very narrow parallel stripes (about the width of a pin). Over the course of the 20th century, light pinstripes on a dark suit became associated with conservative business attire in the U.S. (the inverse, dark pinstripes on a light background, became associated with the New York Yankees). By the late 20th century, however, it was especially associated with louder, more aggressive sorts: financial traders, New York litigators, politicians. Jordan Belford as depicted in the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street is an aficionado.

A pinstripe rodeo is, by metonymy, a rodeo involving people wearing pinstripes. The hearings on Judge Barrett are a show (the rodeo) put on by politicians and pundits (the pinstripes)— but in the view of the Times writer, as yet a different sort of spectacle than others Washington has seen in recent times.

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