Abrazo (Spanish) embrace.
adobada sauce marinated sauce.
Afuera (Spanish) outside.
Al contrario (Spanish) to the contrary.
Alameda (Spanish) boulevard.
Alcaide (Spanish) jailer or guard.
Alcatraz shape to stuff things in.
Algo mas? (Spanish) Anything else?
Algun parentesco? (Spanish) Any kinship?
Amansadores (Spanish) horse trainers, but very special ones who talk softly to wild animals. This is a romantic west.
Amobs (Spanish) both.
Andalusian an ancient breed of horses from Andalucian, Spain; often gray, but also black or bay (reddish brown) in color. Many horse breeds can be traced to these high-stepping horses, including the Lipizzaner. The Spaniards brought these horses to North and South America, where such breeds as the Mustang, Criollo, Paso Fino, and Appaloosa can trace an Andalusian lineage.
antes que yo (Spanish) before me.
Armas (Spanish) firearm, rifle.
bajada (Spanish) drop; slope.
Barb an ancient breed of horse originating in Algeria and Morocco known for their toughness and stamina; may also be quick-tempered. These horses may date back to prehistoric times and have similarities with the Arabian horse, with which they have been crossbred since the Muslims invaded the north coast of Africa. However, the Barb has a broader head than the Arabian horse, and slopping hindquarters as well. The foundation horses of England and America can be traced back to this Barb horse. Most horse breeds have mixed lineage, with some breeds having been crossbred more than others. The Barb is a horse with certain strong physical features, but it was not bred purely until quite recently. In contrast, the Arab has been purebred for centuries and is perhaps one of the few breeds that one could rightly call purebred. This subject is a confusing one, even to horse fanciers, because a horse can be registered in a breed, depending on its lineage and its characteristics. Many horses are registered as part of a distinct breed, but they may not be “pure” at all.
Basketgrass a native grass to the Americas, used in making baskets.
Bastante (Spanish) That’s enough. (Here, this probably refers to filling the coffee cup and not to the weather, although it may be referring to both.)
Bay a brown-colored horse with shades ranging from red and yellow to brown. Points (mane and tail) are black.
bizcochos Mexican biscuits or hard rolls.
Bolillos (Spanish) drumsticks; here, an insulting term.
Bolson flat land.
Bosalea (Spanish) called a bosal in the United States; a rope noseband used for training.
buena suerte (Spanish) good luck.
Buenas noches (Spanish) Good night.
Buenas tardes (Spanish) Good afternoon.
Bueno. La tendre esta tarde. (Spanish) Good. I will have it this afternoon.
Buenos dias, guapo (Spanish) Good morning, handsome guy.
caballero (Spanish) vernacular for “cowboy”; also, originally, “gentleman who travels by horse”; here, both meanings apply.
callejones (Spanish) alleys.
candelilla large-leaved plants used to make wax.
Canela (Spanish) cinnamon.
caporal (Spanish) foreman.
cara y cruz (Spanish) heads or tails.
Carabinero (Spanish) rifleman.
Castellano (Spanish) Spanish.
catspaw a tool for grabbing that has one or more hooks.
Cazador (Spanish) hunter.
certified peeler a real bronco buster.
Charro (Spanish) Mexican cowboy; picturesque.
cholla a desert cactus of which there are many varieties, most with terrible stickers, but often beautiful in their miniature tree shapes.
cienagas (Spanish) swamp or marsh.
Cierra la puerta (Spanish) Close the door.
claro (Spanish) of course.
closing a real estate term for the day when all papers are signed in the sale of a piece of property.
Cojones (Spanish) balls, testicles.
Colt Bisley with guttapercha grips Colt revolvers were the popular guns that won the West. Guttapercha is a hard rubber-like material from a Malaysian tree. This gun handle, or grip, is made of that material.
Comal (Spanish) a hot iron or grill used over an open fire.
Comanch, Kiowa Native American Indian tribes who were located in the central and western plains of the United States.
Como estan las yeguas? (Spanish) How are the mares?
Como le convenga (Spanish) Whatever suits you.
Como? (Spanish) What?
Con respecto de mi cuate (Spanish) In regard to my buddy.
Con respecto de que? (Spanish) With respect to what?
cordilleras (Spanish) chain of mountains.
creosote a shrub of the desert southwest with small leaves and a pungent smell. Also called greasewood and chaparral. Used as a cancer treatment by the Native Americans.
Criada (Spanish) maid.
Criollo A warm-blood Spanish stock horse, indispensable to the gaucho, or cowboy, of Argentina. A horse with Barb blood, the Criollo is know to be tough and is usually dun-colored.
crystal set an old kind of radio, with an earphone for hearing. The crystal picked up the sounds.
Cuales de los caballos son suyos? (Spanish) Which of the horses are yours?
Cuando regresa? (Spanish) When does he return?
Cuanto dinero tienes? (Spanish) How much money do you have?
cuarenta Y cinco pesos (Spanish) forty-five pesos.
Cuchillero (Spanish) a brawler or person clever with a knife.
Cuidado con el bote (Spanish) Be careful of the pot.
Curandera (Spanish) medicine woman; folk doctor who cures; wise old woman.
cutting horse a western horse bred for cutting, or separating, cattle from the herd. These horses can move very quickly, make exceptional sharp turns, and spin around on one back hoof to close in on a wayward steer or cow. The best cutting horses are known for being, as the cowboys say, “cowy”; that is, they are attracted to cattle and are interested in moving in close and shoving them into place.
Dame el refresco. Nada mas. (Spanish) Give me a pop. Nothing more.
De acuerdo (Spanish) Of course, or agreed.
De donde viene? (Spanish) Where are you from?
De que crimen queda acusado el joven? (Spanish) What crime is the kid being accused of?
Deben comer (Spanish) You ought to eat.
Deme las llaves (Spanish) Give me the keys.
die-up cowboy language for a big loss of livestock.
Donde esta mi compadre? (Spanish) Where is my friend?
Donde esta su serape? (Spanish) Where is your blanket?
Dun a buckskin-colored horse. A true buckskin in decades past was a buttermilk-colored horse with a complete dark dorsal stripe and black points. (Now this sometimes refers to a dun.) The dun color comes from yellow hairs on dark skin. A dun can also have red points.
El cuatro. Catorce. (Spanish) Number four. Fourteen.
El ha matado un hombre? (Spanish) He has killed a man?
El padrote quiere ayudarle. (Spanish) The patron wants to help you.
El va a ver a su novia. (Spanish) He is going to see his girlfriend.
Ella esta aqui. Desde ayer. (Spanish) She is here. Since yesterday.
En el segundo puesto (Spanish) in the second stall.
En serio (Spanish) It is serious.
Entiendo (Spanish) I understand.
Es bonita, su novia? (Spanish) She is beautiful, your intended?
Es mucho trabajo (Spanish) It is a lot of work.
Es su hermano, el rubio? (Spanish) Is he your brother, the blonde?
Es una historia larga (Spanish) It is a long story.
Es una troca muy fuerte (Spanish) a very powerful truck.
Esclarajo (Spanish) lighter.
Esta bien. Puedo dormir en lad cuadra? (Spanish) It is okay. May I sleep in the stable?
Esta compuesto? (Spanish) Is it set?
Esta en las sala. (Spanish) She is in the parlor.
Esta loco (Spanish) You are crazy.
Esta un poco cansado de su viaje, pero es muy bonito. (Spanish) He is a little tired from traveling, but is still very fine.
Estan esperando. (Spanish) They are waiting.
Estas bienvenido aqui. (Spanish) You are welcome here.
Factura (Spanish) registered papers.
Forefooted here roping the forefoot and thus tossing it to the ground. Also used in calf roping.
Gabachos (Spanish) derogatory for French person; derived from “gabacha,” meaning “apron.”
Gachupines (Spanish) lower-class Mexicans whose speech has a twang.
gaited rack a little trot. A good saddle horse can perform two walks, two trots, a rack, two lopes or canters, as well as a gallop.
gerente (Spanish) manager.
Good Book the Christian Bible.
grail object of endeavor. The holy grail was the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and the object of the knights’ medieval quests (searches or journeys).
greenbroke horses horses barely rideable and not yet completely trained. “Green,” not matured yet.
Grullo a black horse with white hairs mixed in so that it looks charcoal gray.
gueros (Spanish) fighter.
gunsel goose or criminal.
gyp water containing gypsum and, thus, calcium.
Hace much frio (Spanish) It is very cold.
Hacendados (Spanish) head or owner of the hacienda.
Hacienda de Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion (Spanish) Hacienda of Our Lady of the Pure Conception.
hackamore a horse bridle that has no bit and uses a rope fitting around the top of the horse’s nose, about four inches up from the muzzle. Knots at the side of the nose attach to the reins. The horse is controlled because, when the reins are pulled, the hackamore shuts off the horse’s air by tightening around the nose. The side knots, if positioned carefully, can also press sensitive nerves to help control the horse. Without extra equipment, John Grady and Rawlins are fashioning this bridle so that Blevins can still ride bareback.
Hackamore a nose-fitting bridle without a bit.
Hamley Formfitter saddle Hamley was a respected and prominent saddle maker of the era before and during the novel. The term “formfitter” designated a type of saddle where the cantle (the swells at the rear of the saddle) were very high and almost tight fitting, making it more difficult for the rider to fall out of the saddle. However, if the saddle was not custom fitted to the owner, it might have been too difficult for the rider to get into or out of the saddle.
Hay dieciseis caballos en el potrero. (Spanish) There are sixteen horses in the corral.
Hay un cordon. (Spanish) There is a cord.
Hice una manda (Spanish) I have made a promise.
Hombres del pais (Spanish) Men of the country.
huevos revueltos (Spanish) scrambled eggs.
Ixtle rope made from a type of agave plant.
javelina wild pig.
kiacks baskets hung at the side of pack animals.
la senora (Spanish) the mistress (of the house) or Mrs.
la unica cosa (Spanish) the only thing.
la vela (Spanish) the candle.
las esposas (Spanish) the handcuffs.
lay hands on in Christianity, a way of passing on the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes used by clergy, like Reverend Blevins, for healing purposes.
Lechugilla a large wild lettuce, shaped from a crown, like a century plant.
Lloraba to madre. Con mas razon tu puta. (Spanish) Your mother was crying. With more reason than your whore.
Maguey the century plant; a large cactus plant with big blue-green leaves or long stems that fan out from the base. A large needle appoints the end. They bloom once in seventeen years, when a huge stalk rises out of the middle of the plant. After the yellow-orange bloom dies, so does the whole plant. Smaller versions are called agave.
Manada (Spanish) herd.
Mande? (Spanish) Come again? What?
Manilla special glove.
Marca (Spanish) brand.
Mas cafe? (Spanish) More coffee?
Me quieres? (Spanish) Do you want me? (Do you love me?)
Me toma el pelo. (Spanish) He/she fools me (pulls my hair).
Mecates lead ropes that attach to the horse halter, used in training or leading the horse; here, made of hair.
media sangres (Spanish) medium bloods, or quarterhorses. Horses can be warm bloods or cold bloods as well. Cold bloods are European draft or work horses. Arabians, Barbs, and thoroughbreds are hot bloods.
Mejor que nunca (Spanish) Better than ever.
melcocchas and charamuscas (Spanish) taffy(s) and candy twists.
Mescal strong Mexican liquor, often known for a worm in the bottom of the bottle.
mestenos (Spanish) mustangs.
Mexican ringbit a Mexican spade bit with a ring under the mouth; very hard on a horse’s mouth.
Mochila (Spanish) pack or knapsack.
mojado-reverso (Spanish) rebel, contrary.
Mozo (Spanish) young servant.
muy amable (Spanish) very kind.
Andale pues (Spanish) Well, let’s go.
No fui yo (Spanish) It wasn’t me.
No lo mire a el. Te lo digo yo. Andale. (Spanish) Don’t look at him. I tell you. Go forward.
No me mate (Spanish) Don’t kill me.
No tengo. (Spanish) I have none.
No tiene otra salida (Spanish) No other way out.
No tienes visitantes? (Spanish) Don’t you have any visitors?
No tire el caballo (Spanish) Don’t shoot the horse.
nopal prickly pear cactus of which many varieties exist. The fruits of many varieties of nopal are edible, and the beaver-tail shaped pads, found in some varieties, also make good food.
ocotillo a Sonorean desert plant, not a cactus, but with tall, thin, pole-like branches that fan out from the base. These poles have very small green leaves all over when the plant has received enough rain, and the tops form six-inch, flag-like, orange-red flowers. The poles make excellent fences.
Ojo Parado (Spanish) Glass Eye.
Paint commonly called Indian ponies. These are horses with large irregular patches of black and white or brown and white. Variations are designated pinto, calico, or piebald. Not to be confused with Appaloosa, which is an American breed with distinctive spotting. Roans, duns, bays, and paints are colorings of quarterhorses, although paints now have their own special registry. Originally registered as a color, now as a breed in the United States. In Spain, these horses are called mesquitoes and are special to the king.
Palmer Feed and Supply blotter a heavy piece of almost felt-like paper, approximately 18 inches square, which protects the wood on a desk and is used to blot the ink of writing when using an old-fashioned ink well and pen. An old western practice of feed stores was to give good customers presents at Christmas. Today, feed store memorabilia is considered quite valuable and includes household utensils that are inscribed.
paloverde a southwestern tree about four to eight feet tall. The name means green stick. These trees have no leaves unless they receive rain, in which case they become covered with fern-like greenery and flowers. They can photosynthesize from their bark and stems and can live for extremely long periods without water.
pan dulce (Spanish) sweet bread.
Pasale. Nadie le va a molestar. (Spanish) Pass on. No one will hurt you.
Paseos (Spanish) strolls, walks.
Podemos amansarlos en cuatro dias. (Spanish) We will be able to break them in four days.
pollarded mountains mountains with the peaks cut off.
Por aqui? (Spanish) Through here?
Por donde? (Spanish) Where?
Potrero (Spanish) open lot.
Pozole (Spanish) cornmeal mush.
Previas (Spanish) preliminary hearing.
Puede dejarlo atras (Spanish) You can put it back.
Puede vivir con nosotros (Spanish) You can live with us.
Puedes esperar aqui. Se levantara pronto. (Spanish) You can wait here. She will get up soon.
Punche (Spanish) low class, potent, homegrown tobacco.
Que ofensa le dio a la abuelita? (Spanish) What offense did you give the grandmother?
Que paso, hombre? (Spanish) What happened, man?
Que precioso (Spanish) How adorable.
Que vale? (Spanish) What is it worth?
Quien es usted? (Spanish) Who are you?
Quien es? (Spanish) Who is he?
Quien es? (Spanish) Who is it?
Quien esta contigo? (Spanish) Who is with you?
Quien esta en las casa? (Spanish) Who is in the house?
Quien fue el Pensador Mexicano? (Spanish) Who was this Mexican thinker?
Quien sabe? (Spanish) Who knows?
Quiero comprar una trucha. (Spanish) I would like to buy a knife.
quiero mi caballo (Spanish) I want my horse.
Quinceanera (Spanish) fifteenth special birthday; coming out party.
Quinta (Spanish) country house.
Quisiera hablar con el senor Perez. (Spanish) I would like to talk with Sr. Perez.
Quisiera un caballo. (Spanish) I would like a horse.
Quita las esposas (Spanish) Take the handcuffs off.
Quitese su camisa (Spanish) Take off your shirt.
Rechoncha (Spanish) round or bun-shaped.
Remuda (Spanish) round pen or corral.
retablo an artwork often fashioned of tin.
Roan a horse that has white hair evenly or sprinkled across its body so that its coat has a mottled appearance; usually red roan or blue roan when mixed with chestnut or black.
Rurales (Spanish) country guys.
Sackin sacking. A method of calming the horse with a piece of cloth. (See the preceding Analysis section for more information.)
Santo (Spanish) saints’ day.
Satrap petty tyrant.
Se fue el y la hija a Mexico. Por avion. (Spanish) He and the young girl fled to Mexico City. By airplane.
Se llama la periquera. (Spanish) I am called the parakeet (bird).
Selvedge also selvage, a woven edge.
Si por favor (Spanish) Yes, please.
Si. Ladrones muy famosos. Bandoleros. (Spanish) Yes. Very famous robbers. Bandits.
Si. Por el dia, no mas. (Spanish) Yes. For the day, no more.
Si. Si no me lo digas. (Spanish) Yes. If you don’t tell me.
Si. Tu pistola. Todas tus cosas. Y las de tu compadre. (Spanish) Yes. Your pistol. All your things. And those of your friend.
Sideline a method of tying up the horses to make them stop kicking and bucking (see the preceding Analysis section).
sideoats grama a short pasture grass that is very resilient and makes decent nutrition for cattle and horses.
Sientate. Hay tiempo. (Spanish) Sit. There is time.
Soldadera (Spanish) female soldier.
Solo el chico (Spanish) only the boy.
Somos vaqueros (Spanish) We are cowboys.
Son americanos ustedes? (Spanish) Are you all Americans?
Son de Tejas? (Spanish) Are you (plural) from Texas?
Son ladrones? (Spanish) Are you robbers?
soogan bedroll; derivation may be Native American.
Soy commandante de las yeguas, yo y yo solo. Sin la caridad de estas manos no tengas nada. Ni comida ni agua no hijos. Soy yo que traigo las yeguas de las montanas, las yeguas jovenes, las yeguas salvajes y ardientes. (Spanish) I am the leader (commander) of the mares, I and I alone. Without the charity of these hands you have nothing. Neither food nor water nor children. I am the one who brings the mares from the mountains, the young mares, the wild and hot-blooded mares.
Steeldust a famous stallion in 19th century Texas; a legendary bay quarter horse that came from Kentucky and sired many horses for the old Texas foundation horses.
sull up go sullen or sulky; cowboy lingo.
Sulled balked, frozen up, cowboy lingo for a horse stopping.
Sus prendas (Spanish) Your clothes.
tacked and quartered a riding technique that makes the horse move with a special gait so that it moves forward, but with its body at an angle.
Tamalera (Spanish) seller of tamales.
Te espera. (Spanish) She is waiting for you.
Tejas. Y donde va? (Spanish) Texas. And where are you going?
Tenemos que ver un caballo (Spanish) We have to see a horse.
Tenemos un preso (Spanish) I have a prisoner.
Teniamos compradrazgo con su familia. (Spanish) We had a good empathy with their family.
tienda (Spanish) store.
Tiene also que tomar? (Spanish) Do you have anything to drink?
Tiene razon (Spanish) I have my reasons.
Tienes tu caballo. Esperate un momento. Sientate. (Spanish) You may have the horse. Wait a moment. Sit.
Todos son mios. (Spanish) They are all mine.
Traveler-Ronda line Traveler-Ronda was a famous 19th-century Spanish stud, often referred to as a Mexican sand pony; he came from the New Mexico/west Texas region and created one of the Texas foundation lines. He was dun colored.
Tu. Donde estan los otros caballos. (Spanish) You. Where are the other horses.
Tules bulrushes, marsh plants.
Tus cosas quedan aqui. (Spanish) Your things are here.
un amigo (Spanish) a friend.
Un ladron (Spanish) A thief.
un muchacho, no mas (Spanish) a kid, no more.
un ratito (Spanish) a little while.
Veronica (Spanish) pass with the cape; a special movement in bullfights. Veronica refers to how the cape is held, in the manner of St. Veronica as she wiped Christ’s brow. A very graceful movement in the bullfight.
Vigas (Spanish) beams.
waisted cutglass vase a vase ornamented with patterns cut into the glass, considered valuable as an antique; “waisted” here apparently refers to the shape, usually called “hourglass,” but either McCarthy likes to humanize important objects or this is a southern expression.
Ya comiste? (Spanish) Have you eaten?
Ya estas, viejo? Si, como no. Ven aqui. (Spanish) You are already old? Yes, of course. Come here.
Ya se levanto? (Spanish) She’s already up?
Yo no se nada, joven. (Spanish) I know nothing, young one.