Wyomingites are friendly folks who are proud of their state. They’re more than happy to invite you over for supper at dinnertime or teach you the safest way to dout a fire. If you weren’t born and raised in Wyoming, you may not understand some of the unique lingo that Wyomingites use to communicate. Some phrases that come out of their mouths will completely bamboozle you – that is until you become a Wyoming phrases expert. If you’re ready to sound like a Wyomie – or at least be able to understand what the heck a Wyomingite is saying – these phrase translations will help: 

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Barking Squirrel

Actually, we’re talking about Prairie Dogs – little guys that look a lot like squirrels but instead of hanging out in trees, they live on the rolling prairie. When the head honcho prairie dog senses a threat, he barks out a warning to the tribe so they can scurry down into their safe underground homes. Hike or horseback ride into the prairie and you’ll likely hear lots of barking. It won’t be canines, it’ll be Prairie Dogs announcing your arrival. 

“Those barking squirrels sure do make a ruckus.”
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Brisket

Neophyte cowgirls and boys think the saddle horn is conveniently placed front and center so they have something to hang onto while riding the range. But that’s not at all the point of a saddle horn. The horn was designed as a device to help secure a steer. Once the steer is roped, the cowboy wraps his end of the lariat counter-clockwise around the horn a few times then relies on his horse to hold the tension. A good dally ensures that the steer can’t run off. It takes a well-trained horse to hold a dallied steer – and a well-fitting saddle with a strong brisket. 

“Tie that steer off to the brisket.”

Bison 

Buffalo – either an animal exclusively from Asia and Africa or a town in north-central Wyoming. The big furry beast that’s native to the Wyoming plains is a Bison. Wyomingites don’t call these magnificent herbivores buffalos, they call them Bison.

“You may be shocked to know that bison can run three times faster than humans.”

Buckle Bunny

While on the subject of animals, what in the heck is a bunny with a buckle or a buckle with a bunny? Most of us – some more than others – are in awe of a rodeo cowboy who can wrestle a 600-pound steer to the ground. Rodeo cowboys and gals are proud to sport the beautiful big shiny buckles they earn for their skills. The fan who goes to every rodeo and hangs on every cowboy’s word or action is officially known as a buckle bunny.

“That cowboy sure does have a lot of buckle bunnies.”

Couple Two or Three

Let’s say you’re out in the boonies, trying to find the turn off to a certain campground. You stop and ask a Wyomingite who says, “Yah, that turn off is just a couple two or three miles around the corner from here.” What that person is really saying in their redundant three words is that the turn off is a few miles around the corner. 

“The campground is just a couple two three miles up yonder.”

Dout

Loving the great outdoors means camping and warm welcoming campfires. But it’s critical to follow the advice of Smokey the Bear – be sure to extinguish your campfire properly. No doubt about it – it’s crucial to dout your fires before leaving your campsite. Dout, sometimes spelled dowt, is an old middle English word kept alive by Wyomingites. 

“Be sure to dout that fire before you leave your campsite.”

Greenies

Wyoming shares borders with six other states and one of them is Colorado. Colorado license plates are green. When Wyomingites spot a Colorado license plate, they call out, “Greenie”, which ultimately means, ‘we’ve spotted Colorado tourists’. If Greenies are especially annoying, they’re called “Tourans” (see below).

“Those Greenies are backing up traffic.”

Gully Washer

Wyoming is known for drenching spring and summer thunderstorms. When the storms are particularly strong, the torrential rain causes creeks to overflow and washes out all the gullies and barrancas. Those storms are Gully Washers.

“It looks like a real gully washer is rolling in.”

He’s Got a Burr Under His Saddle

When a person is upset, in a bad mood, angry, or getting angrier, he’s got a burr under his saddle. “Don’t mess with that guy at the bar – he’s got a burr under his saddle.” “Watch out for that woman waiting impatiently in line at the grocery store – she’s got a burr under her saddle.” 

“That hot head has a real burr under his saddle.”

Hypnolope

According to urbanthesaurus.org, a hypnolope is a type of Wyoming antelope that’s able to mind-control the Cowboy State government into believing that they’re the fastest animals on the planet. Even though the cheetah the world’s fastest animal, the hypnolope is able to convince Wyoming officials otherwise.

“That’s most definitely a hypnolope.”

Looks Like 10 Miles of Dirt Road

Whether you’ve just hiked the Teton Crest Trail or have worked in your veggie garden all day, you’re probably pretty grubby. If a Wyomingite tells you that you Look Like 10 Miles of Dirt Road, they’re telling you that you’re ready for a shower and some clean clothes.

“After that backpacking trip, he looked like ten miles of dirt road.”

Pokes

Pokes is a word that derives from cowpoke – a cowboy. Pokes is one of the several nicknames for University of Wyoming students, alumni, athletes, and especially the football team. Some famous UW pokes include Curt Gowdy, Jerry Buss, and Pistol Pete, a gun-slinging poke who’s been the UW mascot since 1917. 

“Those pokes are bringing the horses in.”

Pop

Not your Dad or your kids’ father. When Wyomingites want a carbonated beverage, they ask for pop. If you order a soda, it’s clear you’re from out of state.

“Stop by Jackson Drug for some cold pop or a milkshake.” Photo courtesy of Jackson Drug.

Potato Olé

Bravo for this creative spin on potato cookery. The Potato Olé isn’t gourmet fare but nonetheless, it’s a delectable little round tatertot-ish ‘coin’ sprinkled with a mysterious mix of scrumptious spices and cooked to mouth-watering perfection. Bet you can’t eat just one.

“I’ll take a six-pack and a pound of Potatoe Olés.” Photo credit Highplains-scout, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rocky Mountain Canary

Many ornithologists aren’t familiar with the Rocky Mountain Canary. But Wyomingites have referred to a burro or donkey as a Rocky Mountain Canary since the mid-1800s when they were relied on to haul miners’ gear. Why a canary? When their heeee haaaaw song would ring through the canyons it was a sweet melody to miners’ ears. 

“Those Rocky Mountain Canaries sure are friendly.”

Silk

Much of the success of Wyoming ranch life is due to the invention of barbed wire – the antithesis of silk. If you’ve ever tried to climb between strands of barbed wire, you know how hard it is to escape the sharp barbs that snag your shirt, Wranglers, or skin. “Watch that silk as you climb through the fence.”

“Don’t get caught in the silk.”

Spinning Cookies

Does this sound like something you’d learn in a home ec class? Spinning Cookies is a Wyoming pastime, usually done out of sight and ear-shot of the police, that leaves donut-shaped tire marks on the pavement. 

“Those kids are just out there spinning cookies.”

Supper and Dinner

If your Wyoming neighbors invite newbie-you over for supper, be sure to show up at dinnertime. Supper is dinner and dinner is when you eat around lunchtime. Got it?

“We’re fixin’ to have some supper at the Cowboy Cafe.” Photo credit Cowboy Cafe in Dubois, WY.

Touron

Is that a particular SUV model that’s especially great in Wyoming winters? Nope. A Touron is a particular type of tourist who rubbernecks down the highway, driving slowly to take in Wyoming’s magnificent views. The worst tourons are those who actually stop on the road – mesmerized by the grandeur of a scene in front of them. Tourist and moron = Touron.

“Those tourons are standing mighty close to those thermal springs.”

Wyomie

A person born and raised in Wyoming is a Wyomie. 

“The Devil’s Tower is a spot loved by Wyomies and Tourons alike.”

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Now that you have a handle on Wyomie lingo, are you ready to learn more about what it’s like to live in Wyoming? Our comprehensive Moving to Wyoming Relocation Guide hits all the key points of a Cowboy State lifestyle, from the best places to live in Wyoming to the economy and job market. You’ll feel like a Wyoming expert after you read the guide (and especially now that you’ve got the lingo down!). When you’re ready to pull the plug and move to Wyoming, you’ll want help. We provide quick and easy access to an impartial ranking of trustworthy Wyoming moving companies from all major WY cities. These top-rated movers offer a huge range of services throughout Wyoming – from temporary storage to white-glove service and from local moves to long-distance relocations. Get fast free quotes now! 

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Patricia McBratney

Between working as a clinical educational therapist and flipping houses, Patty’s lifelong love of horses found her riding the remote... Read More