Gaucho ("gaúcho" in Portuguese, "gaucho" in Spanish) is a term commonly used to describe residents of the South American pampas, chacos or Patagonian grasslands, found principally in parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Chile and Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. In Brazil it is currently used to designate people from the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The word "gaucho" could be described as a loose equivalent to the North American "Cowboy". Like the North American word "cowboy", Venezuelan or Colombian "llanero", or Chilean huaso, or the Mexican "vaquero", the term often connotes the 19th century more than the present day; then gauchos made up the majority of the rural population, herding cows and practicing hunting as their main economic activities.

There are several conflicting hypotheses concerning the origin of the term. It may derive from the Quechua "huachu" (Indian, from the Indies). The first recorded uses of the term date from around the time of Argentine independence in 1816.


Gauchos were generally nomadic and lived on the "pampas", the plain that extends north from Patagonia, bounded on the west by the Andes and extending as far north as the Brazilian state of Paraná. Residing outside of the growing urban centres and farming settlements, these skilled riders lived off the land often willingly sharing their food with other travelers. Most gauchos were either "criollo" (South Americans of Spanish ancestry) or "mestizo" (of mixed Spanish and Native American blood), but the term applies equally to people of other European, African, or mixed ancestry.

Some gauchos were recorded as being in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas [] , and have left a few Spanish words in the local dialect e.g. "camp" from "campo".

The gaucho plays an important symbolic role in the nationalist feelings of this region, especially that of Argentina and Uruguay. The epic poem "Martín Fierro" by José Hernández used the gaucho as a symbol against corruption and of Argentine national tradition, pitted against Europeanising tendencies. Martín Fierro, the hero of the poem, is drafted into the Argentine military for a border war, deserts, and becomes an outlaw and fugitive. The image of the free gaucho is often contrasted to the slaves who worked the northern Brazilian lands. Further literary descriptions are found in Ricardo Güiraldes' "Don Segundo Sombra".Like the North American cowboys, gauchos are generally reputed to be strong, honest, silent types, but proud and capable of violence when provoked. There is, perhaps, more of an air of melancholy about the classic gaucho than the classic cowboy.

Also like the cowboy, the gauchos were and still are proud and great horseriders. Typically, a gaucho's Horse constituted most of what he owned in the world. During the wars of the 19th century in the Southern Cone, the cavalries on all sides were composed almost entirely of gauchos. In Argentina, gaucho armies such as that of Martín Miguel de Güemes, slowed Spanish advances. Furthermore, many caudillos relied on gaucho armies to control the Argentine provinces.

The gaucho diet was composed almost entirely of beef while on the range, supplemented by "yerba mate", an herbal tea-like drink rich in caffeine and nutrients. Argentine cooking draws influence from the simple but delicious recipes used in gaucho meals.

Gauchos dressed quite distinctly from North American cowboys, and used "boleadoras" (three leather bound rocks tied together with approximately three feet long leather straps) in addition to the familiar "North American" lariat or riata. The typical gaucho outfit would include a "poncho" (which doubled as saddle blanket and also as sleeping gear), a "facón" (large knife), a "rebenque" (leather whip), and loose-fitting trousers called "bombachas", belted with a "tirador", or a "chiripá", a piece of cloth used in the fashion--but not the function--of a diaper. Several of these items were British imports into the area; for example, "bombachas" were originally made in Turkey. In the wintertime, gauchos wore heavy wool ponchos to protect against cold.

Modern influences

Gaucho is also the common denomination of the current inhabitants of the Brazilian State of Rio Grande do Sul. The term is also used to identify those people who live on the Austral States of the Southern Brazil, as well many others in Argentina, and Uruguay. This denomination is a heritage and expresses a code of living. Too much more than the pride one could has for its origins as immigrants to untouched lands and for the hard-working nature it represents. Indeed, a Gaucho still being today a proud way of existence."Gauchito" (a boy in the Argentine colors and a gaucho hat) was the mascot for the 1978 FIFA World Cup.

In Popular Culture

*"The Gaucho" was a 1927 film starring Douglas Fairbanks. In it he plays the Gaucho, a heroic leader of a gang of outlaws that try to save a city overtaken by an evil general.
*"La Guerra Gaucha" was a 1942 Argentine film documenting the Gaucho war in Argentina in 1817. It is considered a classic of Argentine cinema.
*DC Comics owns two characters named El Gaucho. One was a Wonder Woman villain equipped with a flying robot horse and an electric lasso (from "Wonder Woman" #263) and the other one is an Argentinian masked hero (see Batmen of All Nations).
*"Gaucho" is the name of the 1980 album by American jazz fusion/rock band Steely Dan, which featured a song by the same name.
* The mascot of the University of California, Santa Barbara is the "Gaucho."

ee also

*Hacienda system
*Gaucho literature
*Rebenque, the gaucho riding whip
*The Taba Game
*Florencio Molina Campos
*Gauchito Gil
*Cowboy (U.S.A)
*Morochuco (Peruvian Andean cowboy)
*Piajeno (north coast mule rider of Peru: Piura and Lambayeque)
*Charro (Mexican cowboy, nomad and "bandolero")
*Guajiro (Cuban cowboy)
*Huaso (Chilean cowboy)


* [ Confederacion Gaucha Argentina (in Castilian)]
* [ Folklore del Norte Argentino (in Castilian)]
* [ Movimento Tradicionalista Gaúcho (in Portuguese)]
* [ Página do Gaúcho (in Portuguese)]
* [ Aldo Sessas - Gauchos]
* [ Richard W. Slatta - Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier]
* [ The Gauchos- Horsemen of the Pampas]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gaúcho — Gaucho Pour les articles homonymes, voir Gaucho (homonymie). Gauchos de la provincia de Corrientes en Argentine Le terme …   Wikipédia en Français

  • gaucho — s.m. Păzitor de vite în pampasul argentinian. [pr.: gáu cio] – cuv. sp. Trimis de gall, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DEX 98  GÁUCHO s.m. Văcar (din Argentina şi din regiunea Rio de la Plata). [pron. gau cio. / < sp. gaucho] …   Dicționar Român

  • gaucho — gaucho, cha 1. adj. Arg. y Ur. Perteneciente o relativo a los gauchos. Un apero gaucho. 2. Arg. y Ur. Dicho de una persona: Noble, valiente y generosa. 3. Arg. Dicho de un animal o de una cosa: Que proporciona satisfacción por su rendimiento. 4.… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Gaucho — Gau cho (gou ch[ o]), n., pl. {Gauchos} (gou ch[ o]z) [Sp.] One of the native inhabitants of the South American pampas, of Spanish American descent. They live mostly by rearing cattle. Hence, a South American cowboy, especially on the pampas.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Gaucho — (Gautscho), s. Argentinische Republik, Thl. I. S. 244 …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Gaucho — er betegnelsen for en cowboy i Argentina …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Gaucho — Gaucho,der:⇨Hirt …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • gaucho — / gautʃo/ s.m., sp. [etimo incerto] (pl. gauchos ). [custode di mandrie a cavallo nelle pampas argentine] ▶◀ ‖ bovaro, buttero, cow boy, mandriano, vaccaro …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • gaucho — 1824, from Sp., probably from a native S.Amer. language, Cf. Araucanian cauchu wanderer …   Etymology dictionary

  • gaúcho — s. m. [Brasil] Diz se do habitante dos campos do Rio Grande do Sul ou das pampas da Argentina que, descendendo de europeu e de índia, se dedica a caçar com laço e a criar gado vacum e cavalar …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

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