AskDefine | Define quirt

Dictionary Definition

quirt n : whip with a leather thong at the end

User Contributed Dictionary



From Spanish cuerda ‘cord’, or Mexican Spanish cuarta ‘whip’.


IPA: /kwɜ:t/


  1. A rawhide whip plaited with two thongs of buffalo hide.
    • 1973: She raised the handle of her beautiful quirt to her eyes and scanned the Western horizon. — Kyril Bonfiglioli, Don't Point That Thing at Me (Penguin 2001, p. 96)
    • 1994: He rode his horse with the reins tied and he wore a pistol at his belt and a plain flatcrowned hat of a type no longer much seen in that country and he wore tooled boots to his knees and carried a quirt. — Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing


a rawhide whip plaited with two thongs of buffalo hide


  1. To use a quirt to urge a horse on to greater speed.

Extensive Definition

A quirt is a forked type of stock whip which usually has two falls at the end (like the tails on some tawses). Sometimes called a riding quirt, horse quirt, or a dog quirt.
The falls on a quirt are made of leather, buffalo, or cow hide. The core of the quirt is usually a leather bag filled with lead shot, the main part including the handle is often made from braided rawhide, leather or kangaroo hide and is usually somewhat stiff but flexible.
The old style horse quirt is still carried by some Western horsemen, and this is the style of quirt seen in the early Western cowboy films.
The quirt, due to its slow action, is not particularly effective as a riding aid for horses, though at times it has been used as a tool of punishment. Rather, it is an effective tool to slap or goad cattle from horseback.
In the vaquero tradition, a quirt with a long handle, known as a romal, was attached to the end of a closed set of reins. The romal was primarily used as a noisemaker to slap or goad cattle. (The handle made it too slow and of the wrong length for use on the horse.) This combination of romal and closed reins, today referred to as romal reins, or romal-style reins, is seen primarily in the horse show ring in certain types of western pleasure classes.
The Irving Klaw photographs of the model Bettie Page often showed her in a dominant pose holding a whip, usually a quirt.

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