Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West

Jump To:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  


Begins with “M”


Mab – A harlot.

Mad as a March Hare – Very angry.

Mad as a Hornet – Very mad.

Madder than an Old Wet Hen – Very angry. “Mama woke up madder than an old wet hen.”

Made His Jack – Got what he aimed at.

Driving Sheep in Kentucky, Lewis Wickes Hine,1916

A derogatory name for sheep was maggot, photo 1916 by Lewis Wickes Hine.

Maggot – Derogatory term for sheep.

Mail-Order Cowboy – This was a derogatory term used to chide tenderfoot, urban “cowboys” who arrived from the East all decked out in fancy but hardly practical Western garb.

May Hay – To put in disorder, to make confusing.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines – To make the most of the day, or an opportunity.

Make a Mash – Make a hit, impress someone. (Usually a female.) “Buck’s tryin’ to make a mash on that new girl.”

Make A Raise – To raise, procure, obtain.

Making Meat – On the Western prairies, cutting into thin slices the boneless parts of the buffalo, or other meat, and drying them in the wind or sun. Meat thus prepared may be preserved for years without salt.

Make Tracks – To leave, to walk away. A figurative expression of Western origin.

Makins – Tobacco and papers used to roll cigarettes.

Man-a-hanging – A man having difficulties.

Man At The Pot – According to camp etiquette, when a cowboy gets up to refill his cup from the coffee pot hanging over the campfire, if someone shouts, “Man at the pot!” the man at the coffee pot is required to fill everyone’s cup.

Manner Born, To the – A natural. “He’s a horseman to the manner born.”

Man for Breakfast – A murdered body in the streets at dawn. Commonplace in the early days of Los Angeles and Denver. Also used to describe certain saloonswhen men were killed the night before. “Lambert’s only had two men for breakfast.”

Man-trap – Cow dung in the fields, or, a widow.

To Marble – To move off, be off, go, as, “If you do that again, you must marble.”

Marinos – Spurs.

Marm – A corruption of the word madam or ma’am.

Marooning – To go marooning.  To have a party or picnic.

Mary – An effeminate homosexual.

Mashed – In love.

Mauks – Derogatory term for women of the lower class or prostitutes.

Mauled – Very drunk.

Maverick – An unbranded calf.

May Can – May be able to.

Marble Orchard – Graveyard

Mealer – A partial abstainer who drinks liquor only during meals.

Mean – Bad quality.

Mexican Strawberries – Dried beans.

Milestonemonger – Some who likes to roam, a tramp.

Milling – Fighting.

Millrace – A channeled stream of water that runs through a mill to push the mill wheel.

Mind, Have a – To have a notion, to be willing.

To Mind – To recollect, remember or to take care of..

Missionate – To act as a missionary.

Mitten – When a gentleman is jilted by a lady, or is discarded by one to whom he has been paying his addresses he is said to have got the mitten.

Miss one’s figure – to miss a change, to make a mistake.

Mitten, Get or Give  – Turned down by a lady after proposing.

Miss Nancy – A name given to an effeminate man.

Mizzle – To run away, to abscond.

Pony Express Rider

Pony Express Rider, about 1861.

Mochilla – A rectangular leather saddlebag popularized by the Pony Express.

Mockered – Dirtied, defiled.

Molled – In the company of a woman.

Molly – An effeminate young man.

Molocher – A cheap hat.

Monkey Shines – Eccentricities, strange actions.

To Monkey – To play tricks, fool or tamper with, mischievious.

Monkey Ward Cowboy – A tenderfoot.

Monte – A gambling game played with dice or cards.

Moonshine – A trifle, nothing.

Moonshiny – Deceptive.

Mop – A habitual drunk.

Moppy – Drunk or tipsy.

Mormon Tea – Liquor.

Mosey – To saunter or shuffle along, to be off, to leave, to sneak away.

Moss-backs – Old fogies, men behind the times, slow to learn.

Moss Head – A very old steer.

Mought – For might.

Mouldy Grubs – Traveling showmen.

Mountain Oysters – Fried or roasted calves’ testicles. Also called Prairie Oysters.

To Mouse – To go mousing about is to go poking about into holes and corners.

Mouth-bet – A gambling man who only gives verbal promises to pay.

Mouthpiece – A lawyer.

Muck Forks – A low term for hands or fingers. “Keep your muck forks off me!”

Muck-out – To a gambler, to “clean-out” an opponent.

Mucks, Mux – To make a muddle or failure of anything. “He made a regular mux of the whole business.”

Muck-snipe – To gamblers, the one who has been “cleaned out.”

Mud Pipes – Any kind of boots or shoes, but mostly applied to riding-boots.

Muddy end of the Stick – Short end of the stick.

Mud Fence, Ugly as a – Used to describe someone who was very ugly.

Mudpipes – Boots or shoes.

Mudsill – Uneducated, working class. Low-life, thoroughly disreputable person.

Mugwump – An Indian word meaning captain, leader or notable person.

Mule-ears – Boots.

Mule’s Breakfast – A straw bed.

20-mule team Death Valley, 1890

20-mule team Death Valley, 1890

Muleskinner – A person who drives and usually rides in a wagon pulled by mules.

Muley – A one-horned or hornless cow.

Mumper – A begger.

Music Root – Sweet potato.

Mush-Head – A stupid, witness fellow.

Mustard – To unsettle or disturb cattle.

Mutton-Puncher – Derogatory name used by cowboys to describe a sheepherder.

Muzzle – Loiter.

Mysteries – Sausages, called that because many didn’t know what they were made of.


Jump To:  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y