April 10, 2010


by Maggie Brendan

Writing an historical novel is rewarding and the research enjoyable in my humble opinion. Making certain the setting and clothing for a particular period are accurate, always leads me to the next question. What was the language like back then? What were some of their sayin’s? Since I didn’t live in 1800’s, I get a lot of my facts from books that I buy and I also rely on what I heard growing up, taking note of western slang that I heard in the cowboy movies. Of course, they are not always accurate, but some of the sagas that were filmed especially for TNT TV are for the most part accurate down to the last detail of a saddle or the hero’s gun.

Some of the cowboy sayin’s are tongue-in-cheek but get the point across in a just a few words. Considering the cowboy was a man of few words and more often than not meant what he said, you could take what he said to the bank!

I’ll share a few of my favorites while listening to the Wyoming Wind album, by the BARJ Wranglers in Jackson, WY. Wow! Did they ever use cowboy talk! I was privileged to meet all of them this past September while on a research trip for my new series. Here’s a sampling of some quotes that I’ve collected just for fun:

“Some men’s wives are angels. The others are still alive.”

“If you have to prove you’re right, you’re probably wrong.”

“A lot of a man’s religion is in his wife’s name.”

“It’s easier to stand the smell of liquor than listen to it.”

“The bigger the mouth, the better it looks shut.”

“Most folks are just about as happy as they’ve made up their minds to be.”

“Never try to drown your sorrows if she kin swim.”

“There ain’t no way to practice getting’ hung.”

“A man’s eyes tell you what his mouth is a’feared to say.”

“Having a jealous wife mean if you come home with a hair on your coat, you’d better have the horse to match.”

I’ve used at least one quote in each of my last three books. They are not on this list however. Why don’t you share your favorite cowboy sayin’ with our readers for fun?

Happy Trails,

No Place for A Lady and The Jewel of His Heart available now.

Coming Soon!

A Love of Her Own


Virginia C said...

Hi, Maggie! Thank you--I love this post : )

"Don't squat with yer spurs on."

"Never drop your gun to hug a grizzly."

"If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there."

A few quotes attributed to John Wayne:

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway”

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.”

“Talk low, talk slow and don't say too much.”

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Virginia-thanks for sending those. I love 'em! I had a whole lot more, but wanted to give room for other's favorites. I enjoy reading them.

A man called Valance said...

Amused. Good post. Thanks.

'If ever I someone holding a bull by the tail - you're it.'

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Thank you for taking the time to read my post Valance. There's nothing like reading amusing quotes. Some hit the nail right on the head!

Ann Shorey said...

Great quotes, Brenda. A couple of them made me laugh out loud. Of course, right now I can't think of any of my own, but my husband is full of little sayings like that. I've used his words in my novels--like someone being so hot "they're about to render out."

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

That's a good one, Ann. Some of my favorites were in my books and I'm always on the lookout for the perfect one that will say just what needs to be said in at least one scene of each story. I don't want to use them a lot, but they make me laugh too. I wish I could remember all the ones my mother said or made up. She was pretty funny and so was my brother, Jess, who wrote westerns.

A man called Valance said...

‘Some hit the nail right on the head!’

Indeed they do, and like you said – there’s many more of them.

Winter said...

These are great, Maggie.

The one that comes to mind is one I picked up from a Texan sayings website, that I even used in one of my manuscripts.

"More confused than a cow on astro turf."

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Mmm...Winter, it would have to be a contemporary novelthat you're writing in the case of using the word asttro turf. So keep that in mind or your editor will throw it out. Otherwise-great quote!

Winter said...

Yes, Maggie, it was a contemporary novel. <};^)