This ain’t my first rodeo

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This ain’t my first rodeo is an idiom that gained wider usage in the early 1980s. We will examine the meaning of the phrase this ain’t my first rodeo, how it came into general usage and some examples of that use in sentences.

This ain’t my first rodeo means I am not a novice to this situation, I have experience in this area and I am competent. The idiom this ain’t my first rodeo is mostly used in instances where a less experienced person is trying to give advice to a more experienced person, and is meant to establish superiority. Ain’t is a slang contraction for it is not. A rodeo is a contest staged to allow cowboys to exhibit their skills. Some of the categories of competition are bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, calf roping, barrel racing. Mutton busting is often a popular event at rodeos, which is a competition between children to see who can stay on a sheep for the longest time. Most children have fallen off within eight seconds. The word rodeo is borrowed from Spanish, originally meaning round up. The idiom this ain’t my first rodeo is generally traced back to the movie Mommie Dearest, in which the character Joan Crawford says, “This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.” A decade later, Vern Gosdin wrote a song called This Ain’t My First Rodeo, having heard the idiom from a local carpenter. It is reasonable to assume that the carpenter did not learn this idiom from the movie Mommie Dearest, as the film was not seen by many people in theaters. This ain’t my first rodeo seems to have been used as a very local colloquialism prior to breaking into mass media.


“‘Jack, this ain’t my first rodeo’,” Spoljaric remembers of his response to those ceaseless calls upon arriving on the IBL scene with the Leafs in the early 2000s. (The Barrie Examiner)

“This ain’t my first rodeo and I’ve been bucked off a lot.” (The Bristol Herald Courier)

“At my age, I’d like to be able to say this ain’t my first rodeo, but this is my first rodeo,” said Wofford, borrowing a line from the 1990 Vern Gosdin hit. (The Gaston Gazette)