a man who herds and tends cattle on a ranch, especially in the western U.S., and who traditionally goes about most of his work on horseback.
a man who exhibits the skills attributed to such cowboys, especially in rodeos.
Chiefly Northeastern U.S. a reckless or speedy automobile driver.
Informal. a reckless or irresponsible person, especially a show-off or one who undertakes a dangerous or sensitive task heedlessly: They put foreign policy in the hands of cowboys.
(during the American Revolution) a member of a pro-British guerrilla band that operated between the American and British lines near New York City.
verb (used without object)
to work as a cowboy.

1715–25; cow1 + boy Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cowboy (ˈkaʊˌbɔɪ)
1.  Also called: cowhand a hired man who herds and tends cattle, usually on horseback, esp in the western US
2.  a conventional character of Wild West folklore, films, etc, esp one involved in fighting Indians
3.  informal
 a.  a person who is an irresponsible or unscrupulous operator in business
 b.  (as modifier): cowboy contractors; cowboy shop steward
4.  (Austral) a man or boy who tends cattle
fem n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1725, "boy who tends to cows," from cow + boy. Sense in Western U.S. is from 1849; fig. use by 1942 for "brash and reckless young man" (as an adj. meaning "reckless," from 1920s). Cowhand is first attested 1852 in Amer.Eng. Cowpoke (1881) was originally
restricted to the cowboys who prodded cattle onto railroad cars with long poles.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Computing Dictionary

cowboy definition

[Sun, from William Gibson's cyberpunk SF] Synonym for hacker. It is reported that at Sun this word is often said with reverence.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Example sentences
Soon afterwards one of the cowboy's own horses strayed.
And, if you're lucky, you'll leave with a new affinity for cowboy boots and
Locals worry about the precious, dwindling cowboy culture.
He was pretty certain, too, that a cowboy losing a button would feel
  disinclined to sew it on again.
Image for cowboy
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