What is Kimosabe?


What is Kimosabe?
Kimosabe is a term used by many to refer to a friend who has been very faithful. Kimosabe may also be spelled as “kemosabe” or may be written as “Kemo Sabe” or “Kemo Sabhay”.

This particular term is said to have rooted from a radio and TV series involving the characters Lone Ranger and Tonto. This particular show featured the American Old West with Lone Ranger taking on the role of a cowboy and Tonto representing the American Indian. It is said that in one of the show’s scenes, the character of Tonto greets the Lone Ranger “Kemo Sabe”. From then on, the term “kimosabe” became known as referring to a dear and faithful friend. In this particular show, Tonto and Lone Ranger became allies and best friends in their quest to do justice for other people.

But many have said also that the term “kimosabe” actually means “trusty scout”. This is in reference to a boy’s camping ground erected in Michigan back in 1911. This particular meaning is backed by the Lone Ranger show’s writer and that the term “kimosabe” indeed referred to somebody who is a “trusty scout”. This meaning is similar to being “faithful” to a friend and so either way, “kimosabe” represents a good kind of friend and one who is considered faithful and trustworthy.

In urban terms, when somebody greets another person who happens to be his/her trusted friend, the word “kimosabe” may be used like in the greeting “Hello Kimosabe”. In this particular example, “Hello Kimosabe” simply implies a greeting to a faithful friend. Although the term ‘kimosabe’ is not widely used in plain conversations, many people still recognize the term as some form of description to a best friend. In the urban setup though, ‘kimosabe’ is part of common lingo and slang phrases that young people use especially in text messaging and chat rooms.

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3 Responses

  1. Rob

    August 19, 2011 12:45 am

    People are asking too much of screenwriters to expect a name like
    this to be based on fact or linguistics. Since the 50’s, I’ve always thought
    of the name in the sense of “he whom I know”, which actually makes sense,
    though I’ve forgotten how I arrived at that interpretation. Perhaps it was
    a convenient fiction. To those who know only a little about Spanish or American
    Indian languages, which were most of us listeners or viewers at that time,
    it feels and sounds like the right meaning, which is all that was really important
    at the time.

  2. Ken hansen

    November 24, 2011 5:43 am

    Rokb, you are very close.tonto respected the lone ranger.kimosabe translates as ‘quien mas sabe’.or ‘he who know the most.

  3. Suz

    April 29, 2013 10:29 am

    That’s right, Ken. Most people are unaware that Cowboys and Cowboy lore came originally from the Spanish vaqueros (cowboys) who temporarily took over Mexico, coming north to what is known as the southwest fan – California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Texas – which was, until the Spanish American war, Mexico.

    Kimosabe comes from quien mas sabe or el que mas sabe – he who knows more – which is a logical thing to call a scout. Indian scouts were prized at the time, because the Mexican indians knew every inch of their land – Mexico. My great grandfather was a scout for the US Cavalry.

    Another word people don’t know about is hoosegow – which is from juzgado – jail. Lariat comes from la reata. The dally rope – that is tied around the calves’ feet for branding – comes from ‘da le’ which means ‘give it to him’ which is what the people training a roper would say.

    And on and on.


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