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RV Terms & Slang: It's All Greek To Me

by CampspotterFeb 1, 2021
RV Terms & Slang: It's All Greek To Me

New to the RV world? We understand how overwhelming everything can be.

You decided to invest in a large purchase such as an RV, you tried to catch every bit of advice the salesperson threw at you, and now you are confused by the deep hole that is online RV forums. Don’t worry! With practice and a little guidance, you’ll go from a newbie to an RVer in no time. We hope that this list of RV terms and slang sends you on your way.

An aerial view of Ames Brook Campground in Ashland, New Hampshire with RV's spaced out and sitting in their campsites. The fall foliage can be viewed with bright colors poking out.

20 amp/30 amp/50 amp – campgrounds list the electrical amp service they provide. Different RVs use different amounts.

Basement – this RV term refers to the storage area underneath the floor of an RV.

Black Water Tank – this is where your sewage goes!

Boondocking or Dry Camping or Primitive Camping– camping without electric, water, or sewage hookups. To do this, your RV needs to be self-contained.

Brake Actuator – a control unit located within the tow vehicle that gets the trailer’s breaks to work with the tow vehicle’s brakes. Drivers can use this brake controller to manually stop the trailer or adjust the trailer brake sensitivity. Many vehicles with a tow package already include a brake actuator, while some vehicles need a brake actuator installed.

A person is securing the breakaway switch between the tow vehicle and trailer. A breakaway switch is a feature that activates the trailer's breaks if it disconnects from the tow vehicle in the case of an emergency.

Breakaway Switch – when towing a trailer, it’s the safety feature between your tow vehicle and trailer that activates the trailer’s brakes if it disconnects from your tow vehicle.

Caravanning – traveling and camping with other RVers.

Coach – this is RV slang for the big ol’ Class A motorhomes.

Curb Weight – the weight of an RV, including everything within it such as freshwater tanks, propane, etc., but excluding people and personal cargo.

Curbside or Camp Side – this is the passenger side of an RV or the unit’s side that is along the curb when parked. 

A Class A motorhome coach sits at a campsite at Emerald Coast RV Resort in Panama City Beach, Florida. The RV is surrounded by palm trees.

Diesel Puller or FRED – RV slang for front-engine diesel motorhomes.

Diesel Pusher – RV slang for rear-engine diesel motorhomes.

Dinghy or Toad or Towcar – the RV term for vehicle towed behind a motorhome.

Dry Weight (DW) – the manufacturer’s listed weight of the RV without any tanks full, cargo, or passengers.

Dump Station – a place to empty your black and grey tanks. A sewage hose is needed to connect the RV to the dumping station.

Dually – a pickup truck with four tires on the rear axle. They are often used to tow fifth-wheels or larger travel trailers.

Extended Stay – a campsite where you can stay a longer period, like a whole season or a few months.

A fiver fifth-wheel trailer sits in a valley surrounded by mountains and other RVs and campers congregate together sitting in campchairs.

Fiver – RV slang for fifth-wheel trailer.

Freshwater Tank – where you store your water to use when you don’t have a water hookup. The freshwater tank is where water for cooking, cleaning, and washing is kept.

Full Hookup or FHU – campsite with all the connections or “hookups” like water, electricity, and sewage. It can also be labeled as W/E/S.

Full-Timers or Full-time RVer or FTRVer – RV slang for people who live in their RV year-round.

Generator – an electrical unit powered either by gas or diesel to generate electricity for an RV. Generators are used by those who boondock without connections. When at a campground without connections, they sometimes enforce generator hours due to the noise.

The black water and grey water calves on an RV trailer. A sewage hose is connected to the tank output.

Grey Water Tank – the tank where the water from your sinks and shower go.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) – the manufacturer’s rating for the maximum allowed weight (including tire, wheel, brake, and axle weight) an axle is designed to carry. GAWR refers to the tow vehicle, trailer, fifth-wheel, and motorhome axles.

Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) – The maximum allowable weight of the combination of the tow vehicle and RV (trailer/fifth-wheel), or motorhome and dinghy/toad. It’s the weight of everything, including cargo, water, tanks, etc.

A blue motorhome RV with canoes tied to the top sits in a parking lot surrounded by dunes.

Gross Trailer Weight Rating (GTWR) – the maximum allowed weight of a trailer fully loaded with cargo, tanks, water, etc.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) – the maximum allowed weight of a vehicle, including its chassis, body, engine, fuel, passengers, cargo, etc.

Holding Tanks – ALL tanks in an RV: black, grey, and freshwater tanks.

A honey wagon trailer sits in a grassy field at a campground. Honey wagons travel around the campground and pump out RV black and grey water tanks.

Honey Wagon – a trailer with a liquid tank that can go around the campground and pump out RV black and grey water tanks

Moochdocking or Driveway Surfing – RV slang for parking in a friend or family member’s driveway or property, sometimes with electric and water hookups from the house.

Hula Skirt – a feature that motorhomes can use behind their back tires to protect from debris kicked up behind them and potentially hitting another driver or their dinghy.

A Class A motorhome coach sits at a campsite at Road Runner Travelers Campground in Terlingua, Texas. A hula skirt is attached to the back of the RV to prevent rocks from flying up behind the motorhome.

LP Gas – liquid petroleum gas AKA propane.

MH – The abbreviation for motorhome.

NCC – net carrying capacity or the maximum weight of cargo and passengers a unit can sustain.

Non-potable water – water not intended for human consumption. You do not put this water into your freshwater tank. Instead, this water is used for flushing your black tank out when dumping. 

Part-Timers or Part-Time RVer or PTRVer – the RV terms for people who live months at a time in their RV but still have a home they go back to.

A pop-up camper sits along a brookside campsite at Lost River Valley Family Campground in North Woodstock, New Hampshire.

PO – the abbreviation for pop-up camper.

Potable Water – water that is safe to drink and use for food prep. Use potable water to fill up your freshwater tank.

Pull-through – this is campsite that enables an RV to “pull into” and “pull out of” instead of backing into the campsite. These campsites are popular among people who might only be staying for a night or for those who have larger rigs like a Class A motorhome.

Rig – RV slang and another name for an RV.

A person connects an RV to shore power for electricity. Shore power is electrical power coming from an external sources so that the RV doesn't have to use its battery.

Shore Power – RV slang that originated in the boating world and refers to the electric power coming from an electrical box or another eternal source so that the RV doesn’t have to use its battery. A specific electrical cord is needed to connect an RV to shore power.

A Class A motorhome coach sits at a premium campsite at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort in Luray, VA. The Shenandoah mountains can be seen from behind. There are slide outs popping out of the RV.

Slideout or Pop-Out– a hydraulic or electrical feature in some RVs that expands the unit to create more space inside.

An RV sits on a campsite at Road Runners Travelers Campground in Terlingua, Texas with Bee Mountain in the background. The RV has stabilizing jacks to prevent rocking motion when people are in the RV.

Stabilizing Jacks – jacks under an RV that are used more for stabilizing the unit rather than bearing a large amount of the RV’s weight. These help prevent a back-and-forth or rocking movement while in the RV.

Teardrop Trailer – smaller, lightweight RVs in the shape of a tear

A teardrop camper sits at a brookside campsite at Lost River Valley Family Campground in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Teardrop campers are smaller RVs that can be towed by a variety of vehicles.

Tongue Weight – the weight that is pressing down on the hitch ball located on the tow vehicle. Usually, this is 10-15% of the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).

Tow Rating – the maximum allowed weight your tow vehicle can safely tow, determined by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

TT – abbreviation for travel trailer, a type of RV.

Wet Weight – the cumulative weight of an RV with its holding tanks full and cargo loaded.

A woman sits on the steps of an Airstream trailer parked at a Wal-Mart parking lot. Wallydocking is staying in a Wal-Mart parking lot overnight.

Wallydocking – RV slang for parking overnight in a Walmart parking lot. RVers might choose to stay overnight as a pit stop on their way to a destination, when they need to load up on groceries, or when it’s too late to get to an RV park. Wallydocking does not provide any hookups or connections, and one should always call to ensure they allow parking in their lot and, if so, where they prefer RVs to be.

Winnie – the nickname for a Winnebago.

A Winnebago RV, or Winnie, is pulling out of a campground in Big Bend National Park in West Texas.

Workamping – RVers who exchange work for a free stay at a campsite, including hookups, etc., and sometimes includes compensation.