"Snake on stilts” is an old West term for a tall, thin person. Texas was known for its many snakes, and it’s easy to see how it could color the cowboy’s language.
Old West Insults & Sayings
He is so thin he could take a bath in a shotgun barrel.
He was so fat, you’d have to throw a diamond hitch to keep him in the saddle.
If he closed one eye he’d look like a needle.
He is so fat, you’d have to throw a diamond hitch to keep him in the saddle.
He is built like a snake on stilts.
by Ramon F. Adams
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company
..."he’s built like a snake on stilts,” “he had to stand twice to make a shadow,” “he’s so narrow he could take a bath in a shotgun barrel,” and “if he closed one eye, he’d look like a needle.
by Bonnie and Ed Peplow
with the help of the Arizona Cowbelles
Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company
Pg. 270 (Glossary):
SNAKE ON STILTS: Typical colorful cowboyism for thin.
15 November 1952, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “Where the land is so big it has a voice of its own,” pg. 22:
“If he’s fat, he is “beef plumb to the hocks.” If he’s thin, he is “built like a snake on stilts.”
The Cowman Says It Salty
by Ramon Frederick Adams
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press
Jesse Spillers once said of a thin person that “he’s built like a snake on stilts and has to stand twice to make a shadow”;...
14 November 1977, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Talkin’ Like a Cowboy” by Keith Elliott, pg. 2A, col. 2:
TALLNESS. Built like a snake on stilts.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 14, 2008 • Permalink