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.

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.

Photo by: @livinrvidaloca

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.

Photo by: @pursuemoore

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Photo by: @oilsandgracetribe

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.

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.

Photo by: @theflyinghens

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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