Mike Cleven ironmtn at BIGFOOT.COM
Wed Mar 10 21:49:58 UTC 1999

At 12:45 PM 3/10/99 -0600, Alan H. Hartley wrote:
>Following is the entire OED2 entry:
>CAYUSE. U.S. local. Also †kiyuse, †skyuse.
>[Said to be from the language of the Chinook Indians of Oregon.]
>‘A common Indian pony’ (Scribner’s Mag. II. 510). Also, any horse (N.
>Amer. colloq.).
>1841 T. J. Farnham Trav. Gt. West. Prairies 157 Skyuse horses never make
>such disagreeable mistakes.
>1857 Oregon Weekly Times Jan. (Th.), All manner of wrought and cast
>work,..down to Shoeing a ‘Cultus’ Cayuse Horse.
>1867 Territorial Enterprise (Virginia, Nev.) 31 Jan. 2/4 Jane..was
>mounted behind her lover and away, nor bated they the noble cayuse till
>many a league was passed.
>1869 A. K. McClure Rocky Mts. 302 Twice our kiyuse broke nearly out of
>the harness... The kiyuse is never perfectly tamed.
>1873 J. H. Beadle Undevel. West xxxv. 750, I mounted a cayuse and rode
>seven miles over the hills.
>1882 Blackw. Mag. Dec. 768, I stopped to let the old cayuse rest.
>1885 Century Mag. Nov. 33 As firm a any cowboy that ever put
>leg over a cayuse.
>1948 Chicago Tribune 27 May ii. 2/6 Life atop a cayuse in the
>professional no easier than one astride a bronco on the
>college rodeo field.
>1962 Field, Horse & Rodeo (Calgary) Nov. 30/1 Well, chances are Mr.
>Dude, you’ve been getting a silent horse laugh yourself from your own
>trusty cayuse.

Seems to just be meaning "horse" plain and simple; but that may be a
Hollywoodism and not the original context in use in the Oregon territory.....
>A full-text search of the OED found no case of CAYOOSH. If anybody has
>documented and precisely transcribed quots. with that spelling, I'd be
>happy to submit them to Oxford.

I'll have to dig out my "Short Portage to Lillooet" by Irene Edwards, which
is the one "citation" I can think of off the top of my head - i.e. for the
meaning of "cayoosh" as "Chilcotin mountain pony" or "mountain pony".
Other than in that context, it's only a placename.  Maybe the etymology is
completely different from "cayuse", but given the number of Yanks in the
Interior during the Gold Rush it seems pretty likely that they have the
same root, although the usage in BC may have come to be
different......Other than Edwards, I know there are other references in BC
historical sources; I'll see what I can dig up locally.....

>I don't want to get in over my head here, but the essence of the OED is
>such quotations--which are arranged chronologically in each entry--and
>the editors are always grateful for submissions from the public,
>especially of quots. that represent words not in the Dictionary, or that
>antedate the earliest OED quot. or help refine definitions or
>etymologies. So, if you think you have a live one, please feel free to
>send it to me.

What do they have for "skookum"?

Mike Cleven
ironmtn at

The thunderbolt steers all things.
                           - Herakleitos

More information about the Chinook mailing list