New to RVing? Like any new group or culture you enter into, there are common terms and slang used by seasoned RVers and dealerships which may be unfamiliar to you. RVT is here to help you translate some of that RV jargon. 

We compiled a short list of common RV-related vocabulary to help you decipher the lingo and navigate your new RV world with ease. 

General RV Terms To Get Acquainted With:

Bunkhouse – An RV floor plan that includes bunk beds.  

Cab – The front of a motorhome where the driver sits. Also called the cockpit.

Cab-over – A sleeping or storage area located above the cab of a motorhome.

Chassis – The frame the RV sits on, including the wheels. In motorhomes, it also includes the engine.

Black water tank – An onboard tank to hold toilet waste. Black water is raw sewage and must be properly disposed of at dumping stations using gloves and a sewer hose.

Gray water tank An onboard tank that holds wastewater from sinks and showers.

Dump station – An area for the legal disposal of black water and gray water.

Hose bib – A tap that provides fresh water at a campsite.  You can hook up to a hose bib to access city water if you have full hookups, or they are usually provided in various locations around the campground to access fresh water if you don’t.

Outdoor kitchen – A functional kitchen built on the exterior of a camper for cooking outdoors and keeping heat outside. 

Potable water – Water that’s safe to drink.

Propane tanks – Often used for cooking, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration in an RV, particularly when hookups are not available. Removable 20- or 33-pound DOT cylinders are typically used.

Pull-through – An easy-access campsite that allows you to set up and depart without having to back in. You enter from the back of the site and exit through the front.

RV basement – The space between the floor of the camper and the chassis base. Size varies depending on the type of unit. Used for storage.

Slide-outs – Automated, battery-controlled room sections that slide out and make the inside space of an RV much larger. 

Three-way fridge – Can run on ‘shore power’ (plugging into an AC electrical grid), on propane, or from battery power.

Tongue jack – A jack mounted at the front of a towable RV, used to raise and lower the front to stabilize it and attach it to the tow vehicle. Also called a hitch jack.

Winterizing – Preparing your RV for winter storage

Common RV Slang Terms:

Coach Class A RV.

Diesel Pusher – Class A RV with a diesel engine located in the rear. 

Diesel Puller – Class A motorhome with a diesel engine located in the front. Also called a FRED (Front End Diesel).

Fiver – Another name for a Fifth Wheel.    

Rig – Another name for a motorhome.

Captain’s chair – Driver’s seat.

Chucking – The unpleasant back and forth motion of a trailer while towing, often caused by an unbalanced load.

Hookups – The process by which you ‘hook up’ to the amenities at a campground or RV resort. Full hookups usually provide water, sewer, and power. Partial hookups do not include sewer. Some deluxe RV parks may also provide hookups for cable and telephone.

Newbie – First time RVer.

Full-timer – People who live in their RV full time.

Boondocking – Camping off-grid in remote locations without amenities. 

Dry Camping – Camping in a campground without hookups. 

Moochdocking – Camping for free at a friend’s/family member’s property. The RV version of couch surfing.

Wallydocking – Camping overnight in a Walmart parking lot. Some Walmarts no longer allow this.

Shore power – Electricity provided to an RV by plugging into the AC electrical grid. e.g. power hookups at a campground.

Sticks & Bricks – Traditional permanent residence e.g. a house

Stinky Slinky – A slang term for the flexible sewer hose used to dump the RV waste tanks.

TOAD – A name given to vehicles ‘towed’ behind Class A, B, or C RVs. Also called a ‘dinghy’. Not to be confused with a tow vehicle (typically a truck), which pulls a trailer behind it. 

We hope this list helped you learn some of the RV lingo you need to know. Now, get out there and enjoy your journey from ‘newbie’ to seasoned RVer! 

Do you know any interesting family-friendly slang or phrases that we’ve left out? Let us know in the comments! 

Do you want to learn more about the different types of RVs? Check out our article: Which RV Best Suits Your Lifestyle?

Happy camping!

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