The word “maverick” has been tossed about quite a bit lately, and I always love to consider the origins of words.
Consider Merriam Webster’s definition:
1: an unbranded range animal ; especially : a motherless calf
2: an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party
Etymology: Samuel A. Maverick †1870 American pioneer who did not brand his calves
Hmm, Sam Maverick. I wonder what he was like? Let’s check out Wikipedia:
Samuel Augustus Maverick (July 23, 1803–September 2, 1870) was a Texas lawyer, politician, and land baron. From his name comes the term "maverick", first cited in 1867, which means independent minded. Maverick was considered independent minded by his fellow ranchers because he refused to brand his cattle. In fact, Maverick’s failure to brand his cattle had little to do with independent mindedness, but reflected his lack of interest in ranching.
Maverick steadfastly refused to brand his cattle. As a result, the word maverick entered the English lexicon, meaning both an unbranded range animal as well as a slang term for someone who exhibits a streak of stubborn independence.
Maverick’s stated reason for not branding his cattle was that he didn’t want to inflict pain on them. Other ranchers however, suspected that his true motivation was that it allowed him to collect any unbranded cattle and claim them as his own.
Is being a maverick a good thing based on this history? I guess you have to be the judge.