wakin snakes

Old West slang was colorful and inventive and often brings a laugh. But they sure got their points across. Consider these:

  • Someone would tell you “don’t go wakin’ snakes” if they were warning you not to make waves.
  • If you faced someone very, very angry, he was “all horns and rattles,” while someone who was very blind was “as blind as a post hole.”
  • Anyone wasting your time was “barkin’ at a knot,” while someone who didn’t waste words on small talk “doesn’t use up all his kindlin’ to make a fire.”
  • An expert tracker “could follow a woodtick on a solid rock.”
  • Someone with a bad aim “couldn’t hit a bull’s ass with a handful of banjos,” while a fast gunfighter “could draw quickern’ you can spit and holler howdy.”
  • If you’re happy or embarrassed, you’re “grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ a yellow jacket.”
  • Something very difficult was “hardern’ tyin’ down a bobcat with a piece of string.”
  • When your bark was worse than your bite, you were “more gurgle ‘n guts,” while if you were full of hot air, you were “more wind than a bull in green corn time.”
  • A couple phrases referred to someone who was mad:”mad enough to swallow a horn-toad backwards,” and “ mad as a peeled rattler.”
  • You were very, very poor if you were “poor as a hind-tit calf,” and were very short if you were “sort as a tall hold on a bear.”
  • And when opposites married in the old west, they might be warned, “yuh can’t hitch a horse with a coyote.”

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