Where does the word “roughrider” come from and What does roughrider mean?

It may surprise many of the younger generation, those who grew up in this age of mechanization, to learn that the term roughrider was not coined specifically as a name for Teddy Roosevelt’s cavalry regiment of the Spanish-American War.

Instead, the word originally was used to describe a man who specialized in breaking horses to harness, that is, a bronco buster.

The word has been known in print at least since the early eighteenth century, and probably existed in speech long before that time.

As for the Rough Riders of Roosevelt, a major reason for their acquiring the sobriquet was that many of the members of the regiment were just that, bronco busters and cowboys recruited from the “Wild West” by Roosevelt himself.