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All the RV lingo you need to, and should, know

By Gail Marsh
RVers have a unique language. Have you ever wondered why? Me too! Maybe RVers have discovered this wonderful way of seeing the world and want to keep it somewhat “mysterious” to others. Or maybe RVers use their unique lingo to demonstrate their level of experience to “newbies.” It might be that the RV jargon is quicker to say, making it faster for the RVer to stop talking and get to fishing, golfing, sightseeing, relaxing, or whatever the reason they RV. The RV jargon is interesting, for sure!

Here are a few examples:

Animal connections

  • Toad or towed: Refers to additional vehicle pulled behind the RV
  • Fishtailing: When the rear end of an RV sways from side to side as it’s being towed or driven down the road
  • Pigtail: Power adapter used between the RV and the camp’s electrical power source (e.g., converts 30 amp to 50 amp)
  • Dog bone: See “pigtail”
  • Snowbirding: When RVers living in a northern state travel to stay in a southern state to escape the harsh winters in the north
  • Batwings: Standard RV television antennae

Acronyms

  • RV: Recreational vehicle
  • TT: Travel trailer
  • CG: Campground
  • FHU: Full hookups. (Newbies, this has nothing to do with your dating life, although I can see where you might think that!) The campsite offers electricity, water, and sewer right at the campsite.
  • PHU: Partial hookups mean that not all hookups are available (usually means sewer is not included).
  • GVWR, GAWR, GCWR, UVW: These acronyms refer to the truck or RV’s weight. Because weight is so critical for safety, you’ll want to refer to your owner’s manual or this website for more information.
  • S&B: Sticks-and-bricks home; a permanent location (often deserted to go RVing)
  • LPG or LP: Liquefied petroleum gas; used to power RV furnace, water heater, etc.
  • BLM: Bureau of Land Management. Not as boring as the name sounds! This can save you big camping fees because it’s usually free!

ABCs and 123s

  • Class A: Generally the largest of motorhomes built on a semi chassis; living space includes the RV’s cockpit or driving area; also called diesel-pushers or pullers
  • Class B: A motorhome built on a mini-van chassis; smaller than Class A with driving area still integrated into the living space.
  • Class B+: A Class B with a wider girth
  • Class C: Like a small moving truck; smaller than a Class B+
  • Super C: Class C motorhome built on a heavy-duty truck chassis
  • Fiver or fifth wheel: RV featuring a hitch (fifth-wheel) that connects to a tow vehicle’s truck bed

Atypical camping

  • Boondocking, dispersed camping, dry camping, wild camping: Staying in unestablished campgrounds without hookups, often on public lands. A generator provides power and water is carried on-board, either in the freshwater tank or jugs.
  • Stealth camping: Overnight camping on a street or other public land without anyone knowing; no hook ups. Stealth campers prefer ordinary vans or other vehicles that are not immediately recognizable from the exterior as a camper. (“Stealth.” Get it?)
  • Work camping: People who work for a campground or park doing general maintenance, giving tours, working in the camp gift store, and more. In return, the work campers stay in the campground for free, sometimes with a stipend included.

RV/Truck parts

  • Basement: The space under the living area; usually used for storage of hoses, etc.; usually on a Class A or fifth-wheel RV
  • Dually: Tow vehicle that features two rear tires on both left and right sides of truck’s rear axle; designed to pull heavier weight
  • Tanks: Black tank holds sewer waste; grey tank holds other wastewater from sink/shower drains; freshwater tank holds drinking (potable) water
  • Galley: Kitchen area
  • Honey wagon or blue boy: Separate container to carry wastewater when no sewer hookup is available
  • King pin: Used to connect a fifth-wheel trailer to the tow vehicle; it slides into the hitch and locks in place
  • Landing legs or leveling jacks: Jacks mounted to the underside of the RV; they extend to the ground to level the RV

More RV lingo

  • Pull throughs: RV camp parking slot that allows the RVer to drive through from one end of the campsite to the other without backing up
  • Truck camper: An RV living area that slides/fastens into a truck bed and can be removed to stand on its own legs, independent from the truck
  • Toy hauler: RV designed to carry “toys” like a motorcycle, golf cart, ATVs, and more
  • Rig: Another word for RV and/or the truck that tows it
  • Slide out: A sliding compartment that extends from the RV to add more interior living space
  • Stinky slinky (my personal favorite): Waste/sewer hose that connects the RV to the sewer dump facilities

I’m sure I’ve missed some RV lingo… What would you add to my list?

Related:

Guide to basic RV weight terms

##RVT998

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Bill Richardson
1 month ago

I was amused when I read that a pigtail “converts” 30 amps to 50 amps. Almost all of us understand what that means but some newbie is going to get confused when they can’t get 50 amps out of a 30 amp outlet. Don’t mean to be overly critical because I love your articles. I was just amused.

Gail
1 month ago

You’re right, Bill! Good point. I should have clarified that. Am I now officially no longer a newbie?
Enjoy your day!

Matt Colie
1 month ago

In recent (to me) years, there is a thing I don’t understand. It was always that a Class B was a van conversion. Even with an extended or enlarged body, still on a van platform. The Cs were always a van or cab “cut way” (in Detroit terms) with the house grafted on the back. Now I am told that if it does not have a bed over the cab, then it is still a Class B. How is one supposed to know at any distance if there is no bed in the extension over the cab roof?

Marianne
8 months ago

I made a whole video on Rv lingo. One that is my favorite is PYSU- pick your stuff (interchangeably word insert here) up. You can hear more on our YT channel at Rocking RV Adventures. It’s good for a laugh or two.

Judy
9 months ago

It might be helpful to explain propane vs LP/LPG. I recall an article about someone wanting to fill his LPG tank and no one knew what he was talking about.

TechiePhil
1 year ago

An editor missed the use of “Acronyms” as a category. There is not a single acronym in the list of abbreviations.

Last edited 1 year ago by TechiePhil
Larry Lee
7 months ago
Reply to  TechiePhil

Disagree. RV when pronounced arvie is an acronym for recreational vehicle

Michael
1 year ago

This is a good first draft of an article, but these comments show it needs more research. Also, power in boondocking/dry camping can be supplied by solar panels.

Scott Hunter
1 year ago

Add WDH to the list, along with associated information – like hitch ball, chains, bars, sway bars. Also chains to attach trailer to tow vehicle, emergency brake cable, etc.

Duane R
1 year ago

To clarify, one can “dry camp” in established campgrounds. It simply means “no hookups”.

Jim G
1 year ago

A Class B is typically built inside a cargo van, not on a mini van chassis. What is called a Class B+ is technically a small Class C, since it is built on a cutaway chassis like a Class C.

Ken
1 year ago

Class C units are typically a little bit LARGER than a B+.
Not smaller as you wrote.

John S
1 year ago

How about “pop up “?

Robert Jobson
1 year ago

if you think RV language strange try sailing lol

Rock & Tina
1 year ago

Class A – “also called diesel-pushers or pullers.” You should have stated, “also called gassers or diesel-pushers or diesel pullers.”

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

Class A are not built on semi chassis as they are tractors and trailers, class B is on a full size van not a mini van. Class C are on a cut a way van chassis. You did get super C correct as well as fifth wheel, typical modern day journalism, pick a topic and start typing regardless of content.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

As stated the description of RV classes or more accurately motorhome classes is almost 100% wrong. Gail I’m so sorry, I generally like your writing but this is just opinion, or worse, just inaccurate.

All authors should do research, report the source of the knowledge, and just print the data from the authority, not rewrite it in their own words and show they don’t know what they don’t know.

Class A’s are almost never on a semi chassis. A large over the road truck chassis or a bus chassis, neither of which are a semi.

Super C’s, almost always a semi chassis. Probably the most expensive MH base but doesn’t always translate to the most expensive finished model.

Class C’s are cutaway chassis.

Class B’s are vans, not mini vans.

Class B+ ? Don’t think that is a real definition. If it is a large van built as a cutaway it is best described as a Class C {think Sprinter cutaways). If it is a van with slideouts, it is a Class B with slideouts..

Gary
1 month ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

This.

Chris
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

Once again Bob p has a negative personal comment without contributing anything helpful. Why don’t you start writing and we’ll critique you?

bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

I thought comments like this were no longer allowed…