A cowpoke is another name for a cowboy. While “cow puncher” dates from the 1870s, “cow poke” did not become popular until the 1920s. “Cowpoke” is informal and almost jocular compared to “cowboy.”
The Dallas Cowboys football team was called the “Cowpokes” (later, “Pokes") by at least 1967.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
[f. COW n.1 + POKE n.3 or v.1]
= COWBOY 3.
1881 in Wentworth Amer. Dial. Dict. (1944) 139/1. 1928 Lariat Mag. Jan., I camped there once, and a cowpoke told me why they were named that.
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
cowpoke n. West. COWPUNCHER.
[Wentworth American Dialect Dictionary (1944), and hence all other standard sources, erroneously cites Croffutt Grip-Sack Guide to Colorado (1881); the word cowpoke is not found in that work.]
ca1925 in Logsdon Whorehouse Bells 68: A cow-poke’s boss had got to pay his fine. 1928 in Dictionary of Americanisms: A cowpoke told me why they were named that.
11 September 1910, New York Times, pg. SM13:
“And yet you call yourself a Public Spirited Man,” grone Hon. Cow Poke gentleman.
7 November 1922, Lima (OH) News, pg. 15, col. 4:
Formerly when a “cow poke” came to town in company with one or two congenial souls, he found himself welcomed as the prodigal son.
26 August 1923, Atlanta Constitution, “Letters of a Japanese School Boy” by Wallace Irwin, pg. F2:
“A PENDLETON are the place in Oregon which are noisiest in September when Indians, cowpokers, cattle-salesmen, bull-dodgers and authors meets together for Annual Round Up. (...) Horse-bursting contests where brilliant cow-pokers sets carelessly on top of bronchial ponies which loop in air while trying to kick off their own heads.
January 1928, Youth’s Companion, pg. 20:
Lots of money and lots of gentlemen cowpokes, and heiresses waitin’ to be rescued in every tree.
24 December 1967, Mansfield (OH) News Journal, pg. C3:
Corral New Home
by Dave Brady
DALLAS—The Dallas Cowboys will join the flight to the suburbs in 1970 and the best seats in a new stadium will go to purchasers of $1,000 revenue bonds.
30 October 1969, Washington Post, “This Morning” with Shirley Povich, pg. H1:
The Browns are playing the Dallas Cowboys, and the Redskins will be grateful to any team that can stop the Cowpokes, who are unbeaten in six games and are putting on airs and threatening to make hopeless Redskins’ pursuit of them in the Capitol Division.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, January 02, 2007 • Permalink