RV Glossary – Terms and Definitions

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Have you wondered, “What exactly is a honey wagon? What is a TT? What’s the meaning of life and is there alien life in the universe?”

You’re on your own with that last one. But we can help with the first two. 

Here’s a list of common RV terms, jargon and acronyms you should know in order to talk the walk.

As you come across new ones on the road, let us know!

Last Updated: April 13, 2021

Towing & Weight RV Terms

Vehicle
May refer to the tow vehicle or any form of an RV, whether motorhome, fifth-wheel, travel trailer, pop-up, etc.

The tow vehicle may be referred to by the acronym TV.

Actual
Measured weight of the vehicle or its components.

Rating
Limits imposed on the vehicle or its components.

GAWR: Gross Axle Weight Rating
The maximum allowable weight that a suspension assembly can support. All the components of the assembly – the axle, hubs, brakes, tires, rims, etc. – must be rated to withstand at least this weight. Each axle has its own GAWR.

GVW: Gross Vehicle Weight
The actual weight of a loaded vehicle, including the vehicle and everything in it, as measured on a scale. In the case of a trailer, this may be referred to as GTW for Gross Trailer Weight.

GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The maximum allowable weight that a fully loaded vehicle may weigh as determined by the manufacturer.

TW: Tongue Weight
The actual weight resting on the hitch ball on the tow vehicle. Tongue weight is usually 10-15% of the GVW.

UVW: Unloaded Vehicle Weight
The actual weight of the RV vehicle as configured by the factory for delivery to the dealership. Usually includes all stock features but may not include batteries or dealer-installed accessories.

CCC: Cargo Carrying Capacity
The maximum allowable weight of all passengers and cargo. For an RV, this is calculated as the difference between the UVW and the GVWR.

GCVW: Gross Combined Vehicle Weight
The actual weight of a tow vehicle and loaded trailer as measured on a scale.

GCVWR: Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating
The maximum allowable weight of a fully loaded tow vehicle and fully loaded trailer as determined by the tow vehicle manufacturer.

Wheelbase
Motorhome: The distance between the centerlines of the front and rear axles
Travel trailers: The distance between the hitch ball and the center of the towable axle

Wide-Body
A “thiccc” RV, usually with a width between 96 and 102 inches.

Cargo, Cargo Weight
Everything you carry inside or on top of an RV.

Dinghy
The vehicle towed behind an RV, also called a toad, which is likely a phonetic misrepresentation of the word “towed.”

Dually
An axle with two tires on each side for a total of four (4) tires per axle. Usually a shorthand term for a dually pickup truck, which are the tow vehicles of choice for fifth-wheels and larger travel trailers.

AKA: Dooley, DRW.

Fishtailing, Tail wagging
The unsettling sensation of a towable RV camper swaying back and forth while being towed due to breezy crosswinds or weight imbalances.

Water Plumbing RV Terms

Fresh Water
The clean, sanitized water you use to shower, bathe, drink, wash dishes, etc.

Gray Water
The dirty water from your sink and shower.

Black Water
The unsanitary water and effluent from your toilet.

Holding Tanks
An umbrella term for all black and gray water tanks.

Stinky Slinky
The flexible sewer hose used to dump the RV waste tanks, normally stored in a telescoping tube or 4×4 hollow rear bumper.

Supply
The supply-side of your plumbing system responsible for delivering fresh water to your faucets and showerheads

DWV
The drain-waste-vent piping responsible for draining dirty water and venting the holding tanks

Electrical RV Terms

4-Pin Electrical Connector
Aka, “the umbilical cord,” this wire cable connector plugs into your tow vehicle outlet. It controls the running, stop, turn, and tail light functions.

*You might hear this connector called a “4-flat.”

7-Pin Electrical Connector
Aka, “the umbilical cord,” this wire cable connector plugs into your tow vehicle outlet. It controls the running, stop, turn, tail and reverse lights, the brakes and auxiliary power.*

*Even though it’s called a 7 “pin” connector, most modern cable connectors actually use a 7-way blade connection, also known as a Bargman plug.

Converter
Known as the “heart of your RV’s electrical system,” the converter converts 120V AC power to 12V DC power to run all your appliances and charge your house batteries.

Shore Power
Electrical power from the grid, a term borrowed from the marine industry.

DC
Direct current, normally referring to electricity delivered by the house batteries or converter

AC
Alternating current, normally referring to the electricity delivered from shore power

A/C
Air Conditioner

30A Site
Shorthand for “30-amp service,” normally 120V, common for small- to medium-sized RVs and campers.

50A Site
Shorthand for “50-amp service,” normally 240V, common for large- and gigundous RVs and campers with clothes washers, dryers, electric ranges, and similar appliances.

Propane RV Terms

LP
Short for liquified propane.

CO
Carbon monoxide, a toxic byproduct of combustion without sufficient oxygen. Can kill!

CO2
Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas byproduct of combustion.

Pilot
A small standby flame used to light the main burner of a propane-fired appliance like a refrigerator or furnace.

BTU
Acronym for British Thermal Units, a U.S. customary unit used to measure the maximum capacities of HVAC equipment like furnaces and air conditioners.

2-way
Appliance can run on 120V electricity or propane.

3-way
Appliance can run on 12V, 120V, or propane.

Reefer
Slang for refrigerator, not drugs.

RV Design and Layout Terms

Travel Trailer, Truck Camper, Motorhome, Toy Hauler, Park Model, Teardrop
All different types of RVs!

RV
Recreational Vehicle

Also known as: Home away from home!

Rig
Generic term for any RV or tow vehicle.

Fiver
Not a $5 bill. A nickname for a fifth-wheel RV.

TT
A travel trailer

Diesel Pusher
An affectionate term for a diesel motorhome with the engine located in the rear of the RV.

Diesel Puller
Same thing as a Diesel Pusher, but the engine is located in the front of the RV.

Slide, Slide-Out, Bump-Out
A room inside the RV that slides out of the main body when the RV is parked to expand the living space.

Sleeping Capacity
The RV designer’s theoretical maximum of people who can sleep in the RV. This usually includes dinettes and fold-out beds. If the extra beds are too small for adults, the sleeping capacity may be listed as, ex., 2+1.

Galley
Nautical term for kitchen.

Basement
The storage area beneath the main area of a motorhome or large towable.

Batwing
The standard RV antenna, for obvious reasons.

Self-Contained
An RV that has full indoor plumbing, unlike a small pop-up camper with an exterior toilet or kitchenette.

Honey Wagon
A portable waste tank NOT filled with honey. Normally poop. Also known as a “blue boy.”

Winterizing
The process of making an RV plumbing safe from expansion due to water freezing in cold climates.

Generator
A machine powered by gasoline, diesel or propane that generates 120V AC power. Typically used when dry camping to run AC appliances like microwaves and air conditioners. Also known as a “genny” or “gen-set.”

See article: RV Generator vs Solar Power?

Camping & Traveling RV Terms

Boondocking
Camping without services or power in a remote location.

Moochdocking
Boondocking in your family’s backyard.

Dry Camping
Camping without power or services in any ol’ place.

WallyDocking
Dry camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Hey, don’t knock it ‘till you try it!

Back-In Site
A campsite that requires you to reverse and back up your rig.

Pull-Through Site
The ones that are always already full.

Extended Stay
A campsite that can be reserved for weeks or even months at a time.

Camp Host
The person whose job is to oversee and manage the campground and be your point of contact for rude neighbor complaints.

Dump Station
A location where black and gray water tanks can be emptied.

FHU
Full water and sewer hookup.

Full-Timers
People who live in their RV year-round.

Part-Timers
People who travel long distance occasionally, but not year-round.

Workamper
An RVer who trades labor for free campsite, side cash, or both.

Snowbird
Someone who usually lives in the cold, gray North but spends the winter months in the South, often Arizona or Florida.

Similar to “Winter Texan,” but the winter state of choice is Texas, somewhere near the Rio Grande or Gulf Coast.

Weekend Warriors
The rest of us wage slaves members of the 9-5 chain gang.

Industry RV Terms

RVIA
The Empire The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association

RVDA
Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association

RVRA
Recreational Vehicle Rental Association

RVSEF
RV Safety & Education Foundation

Good Sam Club
Not related to Sam’s Club or Uncle Sam. World’s largest organization of RV owners that provides insurance, RV loans, roadside assistance, and much more.