Old West Slang
Ace-high: first class, respected.
A hog-killin' time: a real good time. "We went to the New Year's Eve dance and had us a hog-killin' time."
Arbuckle's: slang for coffee, taken from a popular brand of the time. "I need a cup of Arbuckle's."
At sea: at a loss, not comprehending. "When it comes to understanding women, boys, I am at sea."
Balled up: confused.
Bazoo: mouth. "Shut your big bazoo."
Bear sign: cowboy term for donuts. A cook who could and would make them was highly regarded.
Beat the devil around the stump: to evade responsibility or a difficult task. "Quit beatin' the devil around the stump and ask that girl to marry you."
Beef: to kill. "Curly Bill beefed two men in San Antonio."
Between hay and grass: neither man nor boy, half-grown.
Best bib and tucker: your best clothes. "There's a dance Saturday, so put on your best bib and tucker."
Bone orchard: cemetery.
California widow: woman separated from her husband, but not divorced. (From when pioneer men went West, leaving their wives to follow later.)
Clean his/your plow: to get or give a thorough whippin'.
Coffee boiler: shirker, lazy person. (Would rather sit around the coffee pot than help.)
Crowbait: derogatory term for a poor-quality horse.
Curly wolf: real tough guy, dangerous man. "Ol' Bill is a regular curly wolf, especially when he's drinkin' whiskey."
Doxology works: a church.
Dude: an Easterner, or anyone in up-scale town clothes, rather than plain range-riding or work clothes.
Fight like Kilkenny cats: fight like crazy.
Fish: a cowboy's rain slicker, from a rain gear manufacturer whose trademark was a fish logo. "We told him it looked like rain, but left his fish in the wagon anyhow."
Four-flusher: a cheat, swindler, liar.
Get a wiggle on: hurry.
Granger: a farmer.
Heeled: to be armed with a gun. "He wanted to fight me, but I told him I was not heeled."
Hobble your lip: shut up.
Knock galley west: beat senseless.
Make a mash: make a hit, impress someone. (Usually a female.) "Buck's tryin' to make a mash on that new girl."
Mudsill: low-life, thoroughly disreputable person.
Play to the gallery: to show off. "That's just how he is, always has to play to the gallery."
Played out: exhausted.
Plunder: personal belongings. "Pack your plunder, Joe, we're headin' for San Francisco."
Ride shank's mare: to walk or be set afoot.
See the elephant: originally meant to see combat for the first time, later came to mean going to town, where all the action was.
Simon pure: the real thing, a genuine fact. "This is the Simon pure."
Soft solder: flattery. "All that soft solder won't get you anywhere."
Someone to ride the river with: a person to be counted on; reliable; got it where it counts.
Sound on the goose: true, staunch, reliable.
Take the rag off: surpass, beat all. "Well, if that don't take the rag off the bush."
The Old States: back East.
Wake up/Woke up the wrong passenger: to trouble or anger the wrong person.