male cattle herder

Cowboy is a broad term for men who work on ranches. The word "cowboy" was used in England in the early 19th century but its use in the late 19th century in North America comes from the Spanish word vaquero. The cowboy has deep historic roots tracing back to Spain and the earliest European settlers of the Americas. In the United States the Native Americans and cowboys have a rich history, Still today, Native American cowboys are making a big impact in the world of rodeo.

A cowboy

Over the centuries Movies about cowboys are often called western movies. Movies often show them as fighting rather than working. Cowboys can be recognized by their big brown hats and lassos. Men who do similar work in Australia are called "stockmen".

Common clothing includes a belt with a big buckle, a cowboy hat, a lasso, a buttoned polo shirt, chaps, boots, and sometimes include another belt for carrying things while riding a horse.

A Cowboy is simply a person who works on a ranch and rides on a horse while he herds cattle. However, on the modern day ranch, the job has evolved into more duties such as branding, fencing, hay production, and machine and animal maintenance. Cowboys are also gunfighters, a lawman, outlaw, or a shooting exhibitionist, but was more commonly a hired gun who made a living with his weapons in the Old West.[1]

In American culture


In American culture, the idea of cowboys is of freedom and independence. It is part of the myth of the Wild West. In movies and other stories, white actors usually play cowboys, for example Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. In real life, many cowboys of the 1800s were black or Latino.[2]

The fictional cowboy called Sheriff Woody is played by Tom Hanks.

In British culture


In Britain, a "cowboy" is someone who charges money but is unskilled. For example, a "cowboy roofer" is someone who offers to fix a roof but does not know how to fix roofs.[2]


  Media related to Cowboys at Wikimedia Commons


  1. "Why does the gunslinger who draws first always get shot?". National Geographic Society. 2 February 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eric Hobsbawm (March 20, 2013). "The myth of the cowboy". Retrieved August 8, 2021.