Do you pronounce rodeo “ro-dee-o” or “ro-day-o”?

Do you pronounce rodeo “ro-dee-o” or “ro-day-o”?

Frank Dean

Omaha, Nebraska

The proper Spanish pronunciation is ro-day-o. But like our use of a lot of Spanish words, we gringos put our own brand on ’em. So we call it ro-dee-o.

Other examples are: vaquero (cowboy) into buckaroo, and vamos (let’s go) into vamoose. The roping style of taking a turn around the saddle horn after lassoing a steer was called dar la vuelta (to take a turn). Gringo cowboys corrupted that into dolly welter, and from there to dally. That’s how the term dally roper originated.

It isn’t just the Spanish language we like to corrupt. Prescott was corrupted by locals to Pres-cutt, and if you say Pres-caught in the Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row, the price of your drink goes up.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.