What does “waddie” mean?

Ask the Marshall – Waddie

What does “waddie” mean?

Walt “Waddie” Clark
Austin, Texas

“Waddie” or “waddy” was originally a derogatory word for a thief or rustler, and the word gradually evolved into meaning a lower-class hired hand on horseback. Wordsmith Ramon F. Adams believed waddie was coined by cattlemen from “wad,” which describes someone who fills in on a ranch during the busy season, such as spring or fall. “Wad” derives from “wadding”—something that fills in. Others believe waddie is an old British word for a less-than-savory or careless person. Nowadays, the word applies to any cowboy.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official state historian and the vice president of the Wild West History Association.  His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu

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