RV Lingo as a Second Language

New RVers will think they take on RV Lingo as a new second language! As with any sport, niche, or lifestyle, new words come up that take on new meaning. Although our family camped when I was younger, most of the RV lingo was like a foreign language to me. It didn’t take long to learn the translation for RV lingo.

Here’s a list that takes the mystery out of RV jargon!


RV Lingo Cheat Sheet

basement:  storage area underneath the RV living area, usually accessible only from the outside

black tank: RV holding tank that collects all water and waste from the toilet(s)

chassis:  the metal frame that supports the engine and bodywork

cockpit:  area where the driver sits in a motorhome

boondock:  camping with no hook up to electric, water or sewer facilities; also known as dry camping

diesel pusher:  motorhome with a diesel engine located in the rear of the vehicle

dump station:  facility to empty black and/or gray water holding tanks

extended stay:  term used for campground or park that allows for longer rental periods, even up to an entire season

FHU:  acronym for “full hook ups”; meaning that electric, water, and sewer hook ups are available at the campsite or RV location

fiver:  slang for “fifth wheel trailer”

four-down:  manner in which a vehicle is pulled behind a motorhome by a tow bar so that it rolls on its own four tires

fresh water tank:  RV holding tank that stores all the fresh water used in sinks, shower, and toilet(s) when dry camping

FTF:  acronym for the Fulltime Families community

full timers:  those who live in an RV full time

GCWR:  acronym for Gross Combined Weight Rating; manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle; includes the weight of the trailer, tow vehicle, fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers.

GVWR:  acronym for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating; manufacturer’s maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle; includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers.

genset:  electric generator

gray tank:  RV holding tank that holds all the waste water from the sink(s) and shower drains

holding tanks:  most RVs have separate holding tanks for fresh water, black water, and gray water

pull-through:  campsite that is set up so the RV can pull through to set up and leave the area; a site that does not require the driver to back into or out of a pull-through site

RV:  Recreational Vehicle; combines transportation and living quarters for recreation, camping, and travel

rig:  another name for RV

roadschool:  the intentional design of learning adventures to educate children; destination education that combines geographical location with hands-on learning experiences

shore power:  AC power source to plug into power sources; usually 30-amp or 50-amp

slide:  portion of the RV that can expand to create additional space inside

snowbirds:  those who live in an RV in the south during the winter months and move north in the summer season

toad:  vehicle towed behind a motorhome

towable:  an RV that is pulled behind another vehicle (a pull-behind camper, fifth wheel, etc.)

UVW:  acronym for unloaded vehicle weight; the weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies, and passengers

workamper:  a contraction of “work” and “camper” to describe an RVer who receives a place to camp in return for services rendered; a term coined by Workamper News

Mary Beth Goff is a solo homeschool mom who loves to have the wheels rolling under her family’s feet. Feeling the need to hit the road, she travels fulltime across the country with her children for the roadschool adventure of a lifetime. She strives to incorporate Mother Nature, National Parks, and out-of-the-way spots along the way. Her love of history has fueled many road trips including all of Laura Ingalls Wilder home places. Mary Beth’s passion is sharing the beauty and education offered by exploring America’s backyard. She is the creator of the educational website Road Trip Teacher, writer at Diary of a Road Mom, and co-host on Roadschool Momsradio.

We Love to Hear From You