What does this sentence from "Double Barrelled Detective Story" by Mark Twain mean?

"If I was running this shop I'd make him say something, some time or other, or vamos the ranch."

In Spanish, 'Vamos' means 'let's go' as far as I know. However I couldn't quite get what Twain was trying to say.

1 Answer 1


While vamos in Spanish does mean "let's go!", it took on another meaning in America, and later on a different spelling: vamoose

intransitive verb

: to depart quickly

In the 1820s and '30s, the American Southwest was rough-and-tumble territory—the true Wild West. English-speaking cowboys, Texas Rangers, and gold prospectors regularly rubbed elbows with Spanish-speaking vaqueros in the local saloons, and a certain amount of linguistic intermixing was inevitable. One Spanish term that caught on with English speakers was vamos, which means "let's go." Cowpokes and dudes alike adopted the word, at first using a range of spellings and pronunciations that varied considerably in their proximity to the original Spanish form. But when the dust settled, the version most American English speakers were using was vamoose.

Given the time, Mark Twain probably still used the original spelling, but with the new meaning, so what he wrote means:

"If I was running this shop I'd make him say something, some time or other, or [exit] the ranch."

I don't know the context, but presumably the character being talked about doesn't talk much and the speaker doesn't like that and wants to make him leave the ranch.

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