The dialect of the old West
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above snakes- Above ground. Said of a man who s still alive.
bach- To bachelor it. For men to keep house without a woman s help. Pronounced and sometimes spelled batch .
bear sign- On the range doughnuts.
benzinery- A low-grade drinking place. Cheap whiskey was sometimes called benzene.
berdache- An Indian male who dressed and lived entirely as a woman fulfiling that cultural role within the tribe. Sometimes called in Indian languages a would be woman and sometimes thought of as a third sex. Common among the tribes of the Americas these men-women had social and religious powers. They might be givers of sacred names; first to strike the sun-dance pole; leaders of scalp dances; good luck to war parties; visionaries and predictors of the future; matchmakers; excellent artisans in beadwork quillwork hide-tanning and making clothing; creators and singers of songs. Understood as following a vision by most Indians they were not tolerated by whites. They persist today discreetly.
bug juice- Booze firewater
butt log- In logging the section of three nearest the stump; the biggest log. Also butt cut the length of log just above the stump.
fag- In cowboy talk to get out fast.
hemp- Cowbow talk for rope; in verb form to hang (someone). Hemp fever was a morbidly jocular term for a hanging. Hemp party (also string party) meant the same. A hemp committee was a group of vigilantes or a lynch mob (depending on your point of view) and a hemp necktie was the rope they did the deed with.
hounds- Rowdies of the gold-rush days of San Fransisco.
man for breakfast- A murdered body in the streets at dawn. Commonplace in the early days of Los Angeles and Denver.
on the prod- Full of piss and vinegar and looking for trouble. Said of both people and critters.
parade chaps- A pair of chaps strictly for show. Might be worn for the grand entry parade at a rodeo.
pecker pole- What a logger called a small tree or sapling.
unshucked- Cowboy talk for naked. An unshucked gun is one that s out of the holster.
waddy- One of the words for cowboy especially a cowboy who drifted from ranch to ranch and helped out in busy times. Jo Mora and Ramon Adams both suggest that the word derived from wad something used to fill in but this notion isn t widely accepted. Neither is the suggestion that it comes from chewing tobacco. To add to the mystery waddy first meant rustler then cowboy . Also spelled waddie.