Have someone buffaloed

Have someone buffaloed is an idiom from the American Old West. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom have someone buffaloed, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To have someone buffaloed means to have intimidated someone; to have asserted one’s superior authority or strength; to have bullied someone. The expression to have someone buffaloed came into use at the end of the 1800s and most probably evolved from a practice that came into use in the 1860s-1870s known as buffaloing. At that time, the verb to buffalo meant to knock someone in the head with the butt of a pistol. This was often an effective tactic used by lawmen like Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson when they wished to avoid more lethal gunplay. American buffalo were thought to be stupid creatures that were nevertheless, powerful. Related phrases are has someone buffaloed, had someone buffaloed, having someone buffaloed.


“You get your bell rung a little bit,” said quarterback Brandon Allen, looking dazed and confused after Denver was buffaloed by the Bills here Sunday. (The Denver Post)

“He’s slick, he’s smooth, but boy, he’s loyal, he’s talented and he’s got them all buffaloed because they’re not as good as him.” (The Dallas Morning News)

Don’t get buffaloed in negotiations: Use bison logic to achieve your ends (The Philadelphia Business Journal)

Leave a Comment