This Ain’t My First Rodeo – From Novice To Veteran

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

This ain’t my first rodeo is a colloquial expression used to imply that someone has a ton of experience in a particular situation or activity. It indicates that the speaker is not a novice and has been through similar scenarios before.

Idioms like this isn’t my first rodeo are expressions that don’t mean literally. We use them to make situations or statements more relatable to others. English language idioms play a vital role in communication because they uphold certain cultural and historical lessons.

You don’t have to go to a rodeo to use this expression, but you do need to know how to implement it properly. This quick guide covers the full meaning and usage of the phrase, looks into its origin, provides examples and related terms, and even quizzes you at the end!

This Aint My First Rodeo – From Novice To Veteran

What Does the Idiom This Ain’t My First Rodeo Mean?

The idiom this ain’t my first rodeo conveys a person’s assertion that they are experienced or familiar with a particular situation.

The Free Dictionary states that the idiom means “one is experienced with a certain situation, especially concerning potential pitfalls or deceitful practices by others.”

It suggests that the individual has been through similar events or circumstances before and knows how to handle them. The phrase is often used to emphasize one’s competence, especially when facing challenges or tasks that might seem daunting to others.

Whenever I see or hear the word ain’t, I always think of that episode of “King of the Hill” where Peggy enters a Boggle competition. Her rival thinks she’s playing the word ain’t, and she says smugly, “Peggy, ain’t ain’t a word.”

It’s true. It’s not an actual word or even a proper contraction. It’s slang. This makes the entire idiom a slang expression.

I used this exact saying a few months ago when a random “publisher” contacted me. They expressed interest in one of my older titles and wanted to know if I would be willing to give them the publishing rights. I asked for more information, and the moment they mentioned a fee, I was out. I said, “Listen, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been in the industry for a decade and a half, and I know what a vanity publisher is.”

Literal Meaning vs. Figurative Meaning

The literal meaning of this ain’t my first rodeo is an interpretation that refers to being familiar with actual rodeos with bulls, cowboys, and delicious carnival foods. But the figurative meaning extends to any situation where experience plays a crucial role. It’s about having the know-how and not being easily deceived or unprepared.

Variations of the Idiom

There aren’t many variations of this phrase, but you might see or hear one of these.

  • This isn’t my first rodeo
  • It’s not my first rodeo

These variations are grammatically correct and also express experience and worldly wisdom.

How Is This Ain’t My First Rodeo Commonly Used in Context?

The idiom this ain’t my first rodeo is a colorful and colloquial expression often employed to convey experience and a sense of seasoned familiarity.

In the following sections, we explore the versatility of this idiom, examining different ways it is commonly used, providing tips for its effective usage, and offering examples to illustrate its application in various contexts. Let’s saddle up and delve into the nuances of this expressive saying.

What Are Different Ways to Use This Ain’t My First Rodeo?

  • Experience assertion: Use the expression to assert your experience in a particular field or activity. For instance, someone might say, “I’ve been managing projects for years; this ain’t my first rodeo.”
  • Navigating challenges: Employ the idiom to communicate resilience and confidence when faced with challenges. A response like, “I’ve dealt with similar setbacks before; this ain’t my first rodeo,” portrays a steadfast attitude.
  • Casual humor: Inject humor into casual conversations by using the idiom to playfully downplay a situation. For example, “Fixing a leaky faucet? Trust me, this ain’t my first rodeo with plumbing issues.”
  • Advice and guidance: Use the expression to offer advice or guidance with a touch of assurance. “Handling office politics? Let me share some insights; this ain’t my first rodeo with workplace dynamics.”
  • Crisis management: Use the expression when addressing crises to demonstrate composure and confidence. “In times of crisis, remember, this ain’t our first rodeo; we’ve successfully weathered challenges before.”

What Are Some Tips for Using This Ain’t My First Rodeo Effectively?

  • Use it to express confidence in your abilities based on past experiences.
  • It’s an excellent phrase to assert authority or expertise in a friendly, non-confrontational manner.
  • Be cautious of throwing this phrase around just to sound cool. It’s most effective when you genuinely have relevant experience.

Where Can You Find Examples of This Ain’t My First Rodeo?

This idiom appears in movies, television shows, books, and everyday conversation, especially in contexts emphasizing experience and competence. It’s the name of the 1980s country song by Vern Gosdin.

You can also find it serving as the title to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s autobiography, where she tells the world about her countryfied upbringing and how she ended up in politics. It’s also the face of thousands of memes found all over the internet.

There are also many instances of it being used in some online publications, including:

“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)

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

What Is the Origin of the Idiom This Ain’t My First Rodeo?

The idiom this ain’t my first rodeo originated sometime during the mid-20th century. While it’s impossible to definitively pinpoint its origin, we can explore its cultural roots.

The phrase is tied to the culture surrounding actual rodeos—competitions based on skills traditionally associated with cowboys and cowgirls. Rodeos have been a part of American culture, particularly in the West, since the late 1800s.

The idiom itself means “I’m not a novice to this situation” or “I’ve been through this before.” In a literal sense, a person who has been to more than one rodeo would be familiar with what to expect and how to handle various situations that might occur. Similarly, someone saying, “This ain’t my first rodeo,” metaphorically expresses that they bring prior experience and knowledge to the current situation.

The idiom 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 many people did not see the film in theaters. 

How Did the Idiom Evolve Over Time?

Originally associated with literal rodeos, the phrase has broadened to symbolize experience in all areas of life, from business to personal challenges and everything in between.

What Are Some Related Terms to This Ain’t My First Rodeo?

Because it’s considered slang and is mostly used in casual settings, try some other terms and phrases that might work better.

This Aint My First Rodeo – From Novice To Veteran 2


  • Seasoned
  • Well-versed
  • Proficient
  • I’ve been around the block
  • Experienced
  • Skilled


  • Green
  • Novice
  • Rookie

This Ain’t My First Rodeo: Test Your Knowledge!

Choose the correct answer.

What Have We Learned About This Ain’t My First Rodeo?

This ain’t my first rodeo is more than just a silly grammatically incorrect phrase; it’s a declaration of experience and expertise that you can deliver in a lighthearted way. It encapsulates the confidence that comes from having been through similar situations before and not being easily daunted. Just don’t use it to sound pompous or arrogant.

We covered all the details about this phrase’s meaning and origin, went over a few variations and synonyms, and then talked about examples in media and literature. I hope my breakdown helped you feel more confident in using this idiom! If you want to learn about others you can use, check out our idiom guides on our site!