Westernisms, those words and phrases or language usage unique to the Old West, have made our language what it is today. Gather around the campfire and enjoy some colorful expressions for your writing, reading and speaking pleasure. Every language changes from year to year — even sometimes day to day — as usage changes. Some of the changes aren’t nearly so colorful and fun as the Westernisms that have had a century or more impact on America’s unique brand of spoken and written English. Click on article links below to our library of offerings in the site’s “Westernisms” category. (I had a lot of fun especially digging out and writing the info about “hell on wheels,” as just one example.) Enjoy!
Grass not only covered thousands of square miles of the West as U.S. pioneers began expanding from the East, it also shaped life across the Plains — even molding common language and “Westernisms” that gave color to the American English of the day.
Stories abound about the hardships and dangers settlers faced as they cleared and tamed the center of our continent. From bison herds numbering in the tens of thousands to prairie grass fires that raged uncontrolled as far as the eye could see, the obstacles were many and sometimes seemed deceptively benign. For instance, who would think children setting out on foot through the grasslands of Nebraska to look for their older brother who was out herding cattle were facing any particular dangers?