Word of the Day


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a horse that is still wild, especially in a rodeo

Origin and usage

The word bronco likely comes from the Spanish word ‘bronco’ meaning ‘rough or rude’. It first appeared in American English in 1850.


Bronco commonly refers to a wild or untrained horse that behaves unpredictably, usually by kicking or bucking. The word is often shortened to ‘bronc’.
The first broncos were wild horses kept by cattle ranchers in the American West during the middle to late 1800s. Wild broncos were allowed to roam on the open range until they reached maturity, then ranchers would round them up and attempt to tame them for use as riding or working horses.

Modern broncos are not wild, but are bred specifically for their strength, speed and bucking ability for use in rodeos.

In the sport of rodeo, bronco riding events are quite popular. In these events, participants climb onto the back of a bronco inside a metal or wood enclosure called a ‘chute’. When the rider is ready, the chute is opened and the horse bursts into the arena, bucking and kicking in an attempt to throw the rider off its back. The rider must try to stay on the bronco for eight seconds without falling off or touching the horse with his or her free hand. Points are awarded to both the rider and the bronco if they complete an eight-second ride.

There are two different bronco events in today’s rodeos: saddle bronc, in which riders use a specially-made saddle, and bareback, where no saddle is used.


“Saddle bronc is the quintessential rodeo sport – not the chaos of bull riding or the thrashing of bareback riding. It might be harder than both.”
(John Branch)
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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