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RV lingo rolls off the tongue when you’ve been an RVer for as long as we have. But if you’re new to RVing, there may be lots of RV slang terms that you’re unfamiliar with, and they may be confusing.

This post aims to offer a leg up to anyone who might not yet be familiar with some of these terms. Even before you hit the road on your first RV trip, you may be online reading posts just like this one to get up to speed in advance of the coming camping season. It’s very possible that you’ll run into a lot of RV slang terms as you do so, but we know you’ll be an ‘ol pro in no time!

Following is a good start!

What Are RV Slang Terms?

RV slang terms are words that are used to describe a variety of aspects of RVing. Some of these terms use words that have literally been “invented” for the purpose of describing some facet of RVing, while others are just re-purposing of words/terms used regularly.

35 of the Most Common RV Slang Terms

Following are 35 of the most common RV slang terms. We’re sure our long-timers will add a few more in the comments section, so make sure to check there when you’ve finished the post!

In addition to defining the RV slang terms, we’ll do our best to offer up some links where you can learn more about it!

Boondocking

Boondocking is camping off the grid. This means that you have no hookups at all. No electrical hookup, no water hookup, no sewer hookup. You can boondock in the middle of the desert or the forest, or even on the beach!

It’s often used interchangeably with a similar term, “dry camping”, which just means staying in a campsite without hookups. The subtle but distinct difference between “boondocking” and “dry camping” is usually considered the location you’re doing it. You can “dry camp” in a designated site at a local, state, or national campground. But “boondocking” (usually) adds the extra meaning of being in an UN-designated site, out in “the boonies”.

Learn more about it:

You can find lots of great tips in our posts on Class A RV boondocking, no matter what class of RV you’ve got. We’ve also got 27 great boondocking tips to extend your time off the grid, and 11 of the best ways to find RV boondocking spots!

And if you’re new to boondocking and want to “practice” camping without hookups, we’ve got some great ideas just for you in this video on cutting the cord:

Wallydocking

Wallydocking is a term used to describe staying overnight at a Walmart. With permission (at Walmart locations that allow it), it’s perfectly legal to stay overnight at Walmarts when you’re on a lengthy road trip. But notice we said “stay overnight” – we didn’t use the term “camp”.

Camping isn’t allowed at Walmarts. But pulling up in your rig to an area that management has designated as the parking area for RVs, buying a few things in the store, and getting a good, quiet night’s rest is terrific. No generators, no slides, no camping.

Learn more about it:

For lots more information, see our post entitled, “Can You Camp in Walmart Parking Lots?

Moochdocking

Moochdocking is a term used to describe the act of staying for free on someone’s private property. This could be at the home of your parents, your kids, a friend or relative, or anyone, really.

Camping on private property or "moochdocking" in RV slang terms
If you’ve been offered the opportunity to boondock (dry camp) on the property of a friend or relative, you’re “moochdocking” in RV slang terms!

Often moochdocking is boondocking/dry camping, meaning that you have no hookups at all. However, sometimes you’re offered the privilege of plugging into shore power so that you can “mooch” off of your host’s electrical power, too.

And yes – you can do that! You may not be able to run everything you want to run – and certainly not all at once. But you can connect your RV to a home electrical connection…with a few caveats.

A standard 3-prong household electric outlet provides 15 or 20 amps of electrical service (check the breaker powering that outlet to know for sure). But your RV may have 30-amp or 50-amp service, so you’ll need an adapter called a “dogbone” (more on those in just a minute!).

Learn more about it:

Have a look at our post all about your RV power cord, and you’ll find everything you need to know right there.

Toad/Towed Car

The term “toad” or “towed car” refers to a vehicle that you tow behind your RV. Usually, this applies only to owners of larger RVs who’d like to have a smaller vehicle with them to explore and visit the sights around where they’re staying, without having to uproot their RV from their campsite.

There are quite a few things to know about toads/towed cars, so…

Learn more about it:

A great place to start is by reading everything you need to know about towing a car behind an RV. You’ll also want to learn all you can about towed car brake systems.

We flat tow our toad – four wheels down. If you’re wondering what’s the best tow bar for flat towing, or if you’re interested in knowing more about the best vehicles to tow behind your RV to maximize exploration, we’ve got your back.

And no matter WHAT you’re towing, we highly encourage you to check out our methods for trailer sway control. That one’s full of information that is essential to your safety and the safety of others on the road with you.

And finally, if what you’re after is a tutorial on how to hook up your car to your RV tow bar, we’ve got you covered there – and here:

Dinghy/Dinghy Towing

This is just another term relating to towing another vehicle. Your “dinghy” is your toad or towed vehicle (see above), however, the term “dinghy towing” is the umbrella term representing any type of towing behind an RV. So a “dinghy” could be a car, a trailer, a boat, or just about anything on wheels being pulled by an RV.

Dinghy towing can be accomplished using a tow bar or tow dolly.

You can read all about the various methods of towing in our post (noted above) on all you need to know about towing a car behind an RV.

Dogbone

And here we are back at the dogbone station! The term “dogbone” refers to an electrical adapter that makes it possible for you to connect your RV to any appropriate electrical outlet.

You can read more about plugging in an RV, or get a good visual sense of how we use dogbones (and which dogbone to use for a particular purpose) right here:

Toy Hauler

The term “toy hauler” refers to a specific type of RV that has a “garage” in the rear, often with a ramp door for easy access. The garage area of a toy hauler is often used to carry ATVs, motorcycles, other recreational gear, or even a car.

Generally, toy haulers are fifth wheels or travel trailers, but there are some Class A motorhomes out there that are toy haulers as well.

TPMS

“TPMS” stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. You may be familiar with it if you have a recent model year car (2007 or newer), as all new cars come with tire pressure monitoring built-in now. But there are also aftermarket systems that can be added to your vehicle’s tires.

Learn more about it:

You can learn all about tire pressure monitoring systems in our post on RV TPMS, and in our post on tire safety tips.

Check out our video on this must-have piece of RV safety gear and learn why we wouldn’t leave home without ours:

Snowbirds

“Snowbirds” is a term used to refer to RVers who spend the summers in the north and head south for the winters – or who simply chase the warm weather, as we tend to do.

Snowbirds fly south just as real birds do – to stay away from the cold, snow, and ice – and to experience warmer temperatures all year long.

Bonus Term: in Texas, “Snowbirds” are usually called “Winter Texans”… a friendlier term to say that those who spend their winters there are heartily welcomed!

Full-time (full-timing, full-timer)

When you “full-time”, you live in your RV all the time. 24/7/365. You don’t live in a traditional (“sticks and bricks”) home. We’re full-timers and have been so for right around 20 years now.

Full-timers like us who are still of working age generally live and work in our RVs. There are also full-timers (full-time RVers) who are retired and simply enjoy living and traveling in their RVs.

Honeywagon

A honeywagon is a truck that empties out RV holding tanks when there aren’t sewer hook-ups. This service is sometimes provided when a campground has no (or few) individual sewer hookups, or (more commonly) at RV rallies and events.

Gasser

The term “gasser” refers to any motorhome with a gasoline-powered engine.

Learn more about it:

For some illuminating information, check out our post on gas-powered motorhomes.

Diesel Pusher

A diesel pusher is a Class A motorhome, but it’s different from a gas-powered Class A rig. A diesel pusher has its diesel engine in the rear of the motorhome. The word “pusher” is used to describe how the engine essentially “pushes” the RV down the road.

Photo of The RVgeeks diesel pusher engine bay in the rear of the rig
A diesel pusher (like ours) has its engine in the rear of the rig, effectively “pushing” the rig down the road.

 

Learn more about it:

You can gather more information in our post on diesel pusher motorhomes.

Bumper Pull

The term “bumper pull” refers to the most common type of hitch. With a bumper pull hitch, a trailer’s tongue (the “A-frame” portion that sticks out in front of the trailer) slips over and attaches to a ball hitch that protrudes from the rear of the towing vehicle’s frame…so it looks like whatever’s being towed is being pulled by the towing vehicle’s bumper.

Most often, you’ll hear it used to describe the trailer itself (“I’ve got a bumper pull trailer”). You may also hear this referred to as a “drag” or “tagalong” trailer.

A bumper pull is a simple hitch (as opposed to either a fifth-wheel or a gooseneck hitch, which are more complicated and either sit in or connect to, the bed of a pickup truck).

Photo of a hitch known as a "bumper pull" hitch in RV slang terms
A bumper pull hitch is a common hitch located on the bumper of the tow vehicle. The trailer’s front hitch is placed over the “ball” of the hitch as shown here, and the tow vehicle pulls the trailer. Thus the term “bumper pull”.

Learn more about it:

Because it contains such critical safety information, we’ll take a second opportunity to link to our post on trailer sway control here.

Big Rig

A big rig is any RV 40’ long or longer. This could be a motorhome, 5th wheel, or travel trailer. Regardless of the type of RV, any rig 40’ or over in length is considered a big rig. The reason this is important is that larger RVs require larger places to park them, so being aware that you HAVE a “big rig” will help to ensure you stay at an RV park or campground that can accommodate it properly.

Learn more about it:

Check out our post for all you need to know about a big rig RV, and if you need to know how to find big rig RV parks, we’ve got you covered there as well.

Cabover/Cab Over

Originally coined to describe a type of truck where the driver’s compartment is situated above the engine (“Cab over” engine), as opposed to being situated behind the hood, “cabover” has had its meaning extended to include RVs (most typically Class C RVs).

It refers to the portion of the RV’s living quarters that extends out and over the cab (where the driver and passenger sit). This section of the RV has traditionally been for an extra sleeping berth, but many Class C RVs now have either storage or an entertainment center (or both) in this area.

Learn more about it:

You can read more about Class C RVs in our post about the benefits of smaller RVs. And if you’d like to see the cabover on a really cool Super C RV, check out our video tour of the first of Newmar’s Super C RVs:

Schoolie

A schoolie is a recycled/converted school bus! That’s right – schoolies are old school buses that have been renovated to become RVs.

Schoolies have been trending for a few years now, and there are some super cool schoolies on the road today.

Stinky Slinky

“Stinky slinky” is the RV slang term used to refer to a sewer hose! For those not yet familiar with the stinky slinky, you’ll connect one side of this hose (usually 3 inches in diameter) to your holding tank outlet and the other end to the sewer inlet. This is how you dump your holding tanks.

Learn more about it:

You can read all about the best RV sewer hoses for mess-free tank dumping, as well as various RV sewer hose storage options right here on our blog. You can also learn about RV sewer hose supports for a steady sewer slope to keep your sewage flowing smoothly.

After 20 years of RVing, this is our favorite sewer hose due to its combination of flexibility, reasonable durability, low cost, and availability (plus, we have a sewer hose storage compartment on our RV that prevents us from using hoses with large, attached ends):

Sale

For a quick-tip tutorial on how to set up a new sewer hose the easy way, have a look at our video on the topic:

Genny

“Genny” is a term you may hear used to refer to a generator. An RV generator feeds electricity to your circuit breaker panel to power your RV’s 120V electrical appliances. It may also power your converter/charger to charge your RV’s house batteries.

Your RV may have a built-in generator or you may carry a portable one.

Learn more about it:

You can learn more about what an RV power converter is and what it does, (and you can also learn about what an RV inverter is and what it does) if you’d like.

If you’re considering carrying a 50-amp RV generator, be sure to check out our post for everything you’ll need to know. If you’re more interested in a smaller solar generator for your RV, we’ve got some info for you as well.

And finally, for those of you who are interested, you can find several posts with some great information on generator maintenance and repair here.

BLM

BLM stands for the U.S. “Bureau of Land Management”, a government department charged with managing vast amounts of public lands. There are lots of opportunities for some great free camping (off the grid) on BLM land, though there are certain restrictions you’ll want to be familiar with.

You’ll find more information in our post on the 11 best ways to find RV boondocking spots.

Flat Towing

Flat towing, as mentioned earlier in this post, is towing a vehicle behind your RV with all four wheels of the towed/toad/dinghy vehicle on the ground.

Flat-towing does not involve the use of a dolly or trailer and is our preferred way to tow. However, not all vehicles can be flat-towed.

Learn more about it:

You may want to learn more about what cars can be flat-towed behind an RV.

If a Jeep is your toad of choice, you may want to know what Jeeps can be flat-towed. Or, maybe you’re wondering if electric vehicles can be flat-towed.

No matter what vehicle you’re interested in flat-towing, you’ll want to know what we think is the best tow bar for flat-towing.

Black Tank

“Black tank” is the term for the holding tank that holds waste from your toilet. When you flush, the contents of the bowl are directed (most often via gravity feed) into the black tank. When you dump your RV holding tanks, the waste leaves the holding tank and goes into the sewer.

Learn more about it:

Here’s everything you need to know about your RV black water tank, all you need to know about an RV black tank flush, and more about dumping and cleaning an RV black tank.

For an easy tutorial on dumping your RV holding tanks, check out this 2 ½ minute video that’ll give you the 1-2-3 on holding tank dumping:

Gray Tank

Your RV gray tank is another RV holding tank into which your sinks and indoor shower drain. Depending on the configuration of your RV, it may have one or more gray tanks to capture and store gray water.

Note: There are a few RVs (the Winnebago Rialta springs to mind) that have the shower draining into the black tank. This is rare, (and with good reason), but it can be the case.

Read more about it:

Here’s all you need to know about your RV gray water tank. If you’re interested in knowing how to clean your gray tank and the sensor that shows how full it is at any given time, check out our post on gray tank & sensor cleaning.

And if you happen to be chasing down an odor in your RV, you may want to have a look at our post about the mystery gray water tank odor in our RV, and learn how we solved it.

Fifth Wheel/5er/Fiver

In the world of RVs, the terms “fifth wheel”, “5th wheel”, “5er”, or ”fiver” refer to a camping trailer that’s pulled behind a truck (similar to a “bumper pull” listed above), with the trailer attached to a hitch mounted in the bed of the truck, instead of to the hitch receive beneath the towing vehicle’s rear bumper.

Photo of a type of RV called a "fifth wheel" or "5th wheel" or "Fiver" in RV slang terms.
A “fifth wheel” or “5th wheel” or “fiver” refers to a type of travel trailer that attaches to a hitch mounted in the bed of the truck that tows it.

This configuration provides several advantages over towing using a “bumper pull” trailer using a hitch receiver and receiver ball, as it positions the weight of the RV more directly over the rear axle of the truck being used to tow. This increases stability helps to reduce sway, and decreases fatigue from long days of towing.

Fifth wheel RVs can be huge, though the bigger and heavier they are, the bigger truck will be required to tow them.

If you’ve got a fifth wheel or are considering buying one, you’ll definitely want to check out our video on leveling a towable RV the first time, every time:

Pop-up Camper

A pop-up camper is a small towable RV that is lightweight and collapses for easy transport. When a pop-up camper reaches its campsite and is expanded, it allows for significantly more interior space than appears when the camper is collapsed.

Pop-up campers can be budget-friendly and easy to tow behind smaller vehicles like minivans and SUVs.

Travel Trailer

The term “travel trailer” refers to an RV that isn’t motorized but is instead towed behind a vehicle. Travel trailers come in all shapes and sizes from tiny “teardrop campers” to huge homes on wheels.

You may remember the term “bumper pull” from earlier in this post. Travel trailers are “bumper pulls” when they’re attached to the tow vehicle by a hitch ball connected to the towing vehicle’s hitch receiver.

Rig

“Rig” is a term used to describe any RV. Our “rig” is a 43’ diesel pusher, for example.

Class A

A Class A RV is the largest (and often most expensive) class of self-contained motorized RVs, meaning that the RV is built on a motorized chassis and isn’t pulled behind another vehicle. Class A RVs can be powered by either gas or diesel engines. And, as mentioned above, when the diesel engine is mounted at the rear of the RV (instead of upfront), are called “diesel pushers”.

Learn more about it:

Our post “What is a Class A RV?” holds all you need to know in general. But if you’re interested in learning about diesel Class A motorhome benefits, check out our post on that topic.

And while many Class A RVs are big rigs, there are some awesome small Class A motorhomes on the market as well!

Wondering if you need a special Class A RV license to drive a Class A motorhome? The answer might surprise you!

Class B

Class B RVs are the smallest of the self-contained motorized RVs. These are sometimes referred to as “camper vans” or “van conversions”.

You can learn more in our post on the benefits of smaller RVs, and in our post on how to buy an RV.

Psssst: There’s actually something called a “Class B+” RV too, but it’s really just a marketing term. Upon registering a so-called “Class B+ RV”, you may note that it’s technically considered a Class C, but if you’d like to see the difference between a Class B and a Class B+ RV, feel free to watch our video tour of the Class B+ we rented in New Zealand:

Class C

A Class C RV is the middle child of motorized RVs, sitting squarely between the Class A and Class B rigs (oddly enough) in size – Class C RVs range widely in length from 21’ to 41’! But, strangely enough, they are often the RVs that provide the most amount of sleeping capacity, so they are often the best choice for those who travel with larger families (and, since they’re often more affordable than their Class A and Class B counterparts, are a good fit for more budgets).

Class C RVs are generally recognizable by the cabover (see RV slang term above!) that sits up over the driver & passenger compartment.

When built on a larger, heavier-duty chassis, the humble Class C can also be known as a Super C RV! More space, more towing power… more expensive!

Chassis

The term “chassis” refers to the frame on which an RV is built. On motorhomes, the “chassis” also includes the engine and transmission.

Cabin

An RV’s cabin, sometimes referred to as the “house”, is the living space of the RV. The cabin is generally considered separate from the chassis.

Basement

The basement of an RV is the compartment(s) located under the floor of the rig that’s generally used for storage or for part of the RV’s equipment. Depending on the design of the RV’s chassis, the basement compartments may run the width of the RV in some sections. When they do that, they’re called “pass-through” compartments… a feature that greatly increases the amount of storage capacity an RV provides.

While we’re on the topic, here are some great RV basement storage ideas!

Sticks & Bricks

The term “sticks & bricks” is used to refer to a house on a property, generally built on either a foundation or a slab.

You may hear RVers refer to their “sticks & bricks” which is their home-on-land (with their RV being their home-on-wheels).

What Are Some RV Slang Terms That Had You Scratching Your Head?

We’ve been around these parts for a long time now, and while the list above is long, it’s not 100% complete – so shoot us a comment if you’ve run into an RV slang term that has you scratching your head!

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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

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