Tribune Print Share Text

Title

Musket, cartoon, cowboy, doughboy

Created date

January 6th, 2017
A quintessential cowboy

Musket

The musket played a significant role in history. A smoothbore firearm, this gun saw action in conflicts from the beginning of the 1700s into the first decade of the nineteenth century. 

But why do we call it a “musket”?

We borrowed this one from Italian and French. The word stems from the Italian term “moschetto,” which refers to the musket’s predecessor, a “crossbow bolt.” The French, in turn, modified the Italian to “mousquet.”

When long firearms fell into common use, replacing the crossbow as the predominant battlefield weapon, it took its name from the French, the Anglicized version being what we know today as “musket.”

“The most famous model of British musket is the Brown Bess.”

Cartoon

We were all kids at one time, so it’s probably a safe assumption that we all have a favorite cartoon. Maybe it’s a Peanuts comic strip, an animated feature such as Dumbo, or a Looney Tunes short starring Bugs Bunny. Whatever your preference, cartoons are universally loved by children and adults alike.

And once again, the word itself stems from both Italian and French. In fact, it’s a combination of the two: the French term “carton,” meaning drawing, and the Italian word “cartone,” meaning heavy paper. 

“They used to play cartoons along with a feature film at the movies.”

Cowboy

Most commonly used as one word today, “cowboy” refers generally to the horse-riding, gun-slinging heroes in Westerns. It’s also the name of anyone who works with and handles cattle for a living.

But originally, the moniker was two words, and not nice ones. A “cow boy,” in nineteenth-century parlance, was a deadbeat criminal; hence, the name of the famous Tombstone, Ariz., gang at the center of the O.K. Corral shootout that made Wyatt Earp a household name. 

Sworn enemies of the famous Earp brothers, the Cow Boys identified themselves by wearing a red sash in their belts.

“I used to enjoy playing cowboys and Indians as a child.”

Doughboy

Doughboy was the term used to refer to the troops of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. No one knows exactly where this term came from, but the most interesting theory is an assertion made by the legendary author and journalist H.L. Mencken.

According to Mencken, “Doughboy” harkens back to the Revolutionary War, when Continental soldiers used clay to keep the piping on their uniforms clean and white. 

When it rained, however, the remnants of this clay would turn into dough-like globs. If this is true, then the rest is history. 

“I’ve seen pictures of the Doughboys going off to war in 1917.”

Comments