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Dictionary of the New West

Essay by John Walker

The New West – November 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dictionary for a New West

by John Walker

califor-ni-an (kal’u forn’yun) n. 1. resident of the state of California. 2. imprudent spender single-handedly responsible for inflated values of real property. [earlier form Texan]

en-dan-gered spe-cies (en dan’grd spe’ sez) n. 1. every group that has had a representative address a public hearing in the West: “Ranchers, miners, etc.: We’re the endangered species.” 2. a species of plants or animals facing imminent extinction. [Obsolete]

en-vi-ron-men-tal-ist (en vi’ ern men’tl ist) n. [Old English, a jobless unsanitary person who advocates protection for natural resources Slang, vulgar] 1. every member of the National Cattlemen’s Association, usage typically preceded by adjective “original.” 2. any rancher facing reduction in allotted grazing on public lands. [1992]

hob-by ranch (hob’e ranch) n. 1. derogatory term for a rural property owned by a wealthy, often absentee, owner where livestock are produced under range conditions. 2. a rural property that produces livestock under range conditions which would have been sold to a land developer and reduced to lot-sized parcels for sale by operators of telephone boiler rooms had it not been purchased by a wealthy, often absentee, owner who afterwards employes experienced ranch hands, sometimes called “cowboys,” who would otherwise by engaged in other decidedly non-bucolic occupations. [1990-95, Amer.]

job (job) n. [originally any form of paid employment. Colloq. Obsolete] employment paying enough to support household of five, along with snowmobiles and powerboat. May be above ground or underground. Commonly preceded by adjective “real.” [1980-90]

new-com-er (moo’kum’er) n. 1. a person whose family or ancestors arrived in last hundred years. (Slang, vulgar) 2. a person who arrived at least one day after the user of this word. 3. persons of European ancestry. [1492, Amer. Ind.]

new west (noo’west) n. undefinable term used to create the pretense that Western social processes have changed. [1970]

old west (old’west) n. 1. brief historical period spanning the years 1850-90 characterized by pioneering settlement and violent extinguishment of native title to lands. 2. idyllic historical period when men were men. [Mythical] [1890]

ranch (ranch) n. 1. a rural property where livestock are produced under range conditions. 2. any rural property whose resident has recently relocated from an urban area, typically used as a subtle conversational reminder of new-found landed status: I’ll call you from the ranch. 3. any rural property bigger than a city lot. see 1. 2. above. [1800-1985, Amer.]

tro-phy home (tro’fe hom) n. 1. any one of several large ostentatious dwellings belonging to a single owner who resides periodically for the purpose of enjoying a seasonal climate or recreational pursuits. 2. any home larger than your own, particularly if it appears to raise your property valuation and taxes. 3. any one of several large ostentatious dwellings whose owners, by virtue of being largely absent, pays more in local property taxes than they extract in governmental services. [1994-96]

John Walker lives in Coaldale and is a regular contributor to Writers on the Range, a project of High Country News.