Definition of cowboy in English:


Line breaks: cow¦boy
Pronunciation: /ˈkaʊbɔɪ


  • 2British informal A dishonest or careless person in business, especially an unqualified one: [as modifier]: cowboy coach firms are alleged to have flouted safety rules
    More example sentences
    • I wanted to make certain that we were going about it correctly, and not employing cowboys on our business.
    • ‘It is not the case of a cowboy firm failing to contact the Environment Agency in order to cut costs,’ he said.
    • He also accused some motorists of behaving like ignoramuses and cowboys who put business in jeopardy.
    cheat, swindler, fraudster, trickster, charlatan, scoundrel, rogue, rascal, unscrupulous operator; incompetent, amateur, bungler, blunderer, bumbler
    British informal bodger


[no object] North American informal Back to top  
  • Work as a cowboy.
    More example sentences
    • Having shared the dangers of their trek on my first season cowboying, they assumed I would return.
    • After years of cowboying, he had been ready to settle into something that would keep him still the rest of his days.
    • During the ‘30s he cowboyed Sonora County's rough country of rimrocks, canyons and sotols for $30 a month.

Phrasal verbs

cowboy up

US informal Make a determined effort to overcome an obstacle or deal with a difficult situation: if the recount votes aren’t to his liking, he still needs to cowboy up and let the voters' will be heard
More example sentences
  • But a man, she thought, was supposed to endure pain, cowboy up, and not bitch about it all day long.
  • Both sides need to cowboy up.
  • This would be an open attempt to get them to thinking that they need to cowboy up and put me in my place.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody