True West Historical Society

Official Site of True West Magazine, Since 1953

March 29, 2011

   Working on a new True West Moment on the origins of the term "ten gallon hat." Most people think it came from the idea that the crowns of big hats were so huge they could hold ten gallons of water (see famous Stetson ad of a cowboy holding his fat full of water so his horse can drink).

 

   Actually, the term appears to come from the Spanish, "tan galan," which means "so gallant." Also, galone is a term for fancy braids on a sombrero and if a hat has ten galones it is indeed so gallant. English speakers mangled the term tan galan, or, perhaps were being sarcastic (knowing Texans, I suspect the latter) and mangled it to a ten gallon hat.

 

"With lots of exceptions, killing yourself is a bad idea."

—Benjamin Alsup

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Comment by ChipProf on March 29, 2011 at 6:57pm
Thanks, Boze!  Always wondered about that, since no hat I know of will hold 10 gallons of anything!

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