Cowboy, a cattle herder, especially one employed in the range cattle industry. The term usually brings to mind the Old West of the United States, but cowboys exist ever large numbers of cattle are raised. The cowboys of the Argentine pampas are called gauchos. Those of Chile are huasos, and Mexican cowboys are vaqueros. The cowboy of Canada is much the same as the cowboy of the United States.

There are three distinct kinds of cowboys—(1) the cowboy of history; (2) the cowboy of fiction, motion pictures, radio, and television; and (3) the working cowboy of today.