A “mail-order cowboy” was a person newly arrived to the west, dressed as if from a mail-order cowboy catalogue. Other names for the “mail-order cowboy” include Arbuckle” and tenderfoot.”
The term “mail-order cowboy” was added to cowboy lingo late—after 1900.
The Wild West
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.
by Ramon F. Adams
New York: Houghton Mifflin Company
1936 (original copyright)
A tenderfoot in the “custom-made” cowboy regalia and devoid of range experience was a “mail-order cowboy.”
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
mail-order adj. ridiculously inadequate or inferior [Early quots. ref. chiefly to WWI.]
1926 Branch Cowboy 17: The range came to expect and recognize the “mail-order cowboy,” who arrived already fitted in cowboy-wear as he knew it.
29 November 1929, Helena (MT) Independent, “Is a Tenderfoot a Dude?,” pg. 4, col. 2:
The Indians express their impression of them in the term “mail-order cowboy.”
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, January 06, 2007 • Permalink