|Slang City Mail|
|October 23, 2003|
of the Week: cowboy up (verb phrase)
Well, of course, cowboying up didn’t help the Red Sox. They lost to the Yankees last week in the last of seven games. But this is an interesting transplantation of slang into a new context. The phrase comes from the rodeo, where participants must be tough, since they are regularly thrown to the ground and stomped on by bulls. It hadn’t been used much in Massachusetts until this year, when Millar made the connection to the Sox, who are regularly thrown to the ground and stomped on by the Yankees.
While baseball players are not exactly cowboys, they do have some linguistic relationship to cows. Pitchers warm up in the bullpen and minor league baseball outfits are called farm teams.
And there are other cowboy expressions that are regularly seen in the sports pages. When a player returns to the game after recovering from an injury, he’s back in the saddle. After a major no-no, like the fights last week, offenders have to pony up (pay) a fine. Finally, when a player retires, he hangs up his spurs.
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