RV beginner

RV Terms: Simple Guide for RV Definitions & Lingo [A - Z]

Posted on June 10, 2024

RV Terms: Simple Guide for RV Definitions & Lingo [A - Z]

New to RVing?

Our comprehensive guide for RV terms, definitions, and lingo will help unravel the RV community's language for all the words RVs know and use.

With our help, you'll be an RV-literate adventurer in no time.

Let's get started learning the ABCs of RVing!

Table of contents

Letters A-C
Letters D-F
Letters G-I
Letters J-L
Letters M-O
Letters P-R
Letters S-U
Letters V-Z

Letters A-C


AGM batteries — AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries are a type of lead-acid battery that absorbs the acid in a sealed mat, making them spill-proof and maintenance-free.

A-frame — A type of towable RV that has hard sides and a peaked roof that resembles an A-frame structure. It is compact and easy to tow.

Air brake — The type of braking system used for many diesel Class A and Super C RVs. It operates using compressed air to apply pressure to the brake pads. If you drive an RV with air brakes, you may be required to have a special driver's license to operate your motorhome in the U.S. and Canada.

Awning — An RV awning is a retractable covering attached to the side of an RV that provides shade and protection from the elements.


Basement — Storage compartments located beneath the main living area of a motorhome or fifth wheel.

Battery bank — A group of batteries wired together to increase an RV's overall storage capacity for electrical power.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — A public land management agency supported by U.S. taxes and government funding that helps keep U.S. public lands cared for.

Black water tank — A component of an RV's waste management system designed to collect and store sewage from the toilet.

Boondocking — Camping off-the-grid with no services or amenities typically found at RV parks or developed campgrounds. Most RVers say they are boondocking when they camp for free on public lands. Also known as wild camping or freedom camping.

Brake controller — A brake controller is an electronic device that controls the electric brakes on a towable RV, enhancing braking performance and safety.

Breakaway switch — A safety device that activates the trailer brakes if the trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle.

Bunkhouse — A separate sleeping space in an RV with bunk beds. Bunkhouses are common in fifth wheels, travel trailers, and Class A RVs.

Bumper pull — A type of travel trailer that is hitched to a tow vehicle using a ball hitch mounted on the rear bumper or frame of the vehicle.


Camper — Another word for a towable RV. Campers typically refer to travel trailers, pop-up trailers, and A-frame trailers, but teardrops and other tow-behind trailers can also be called campers.

Campervan — A van that has been customized for camping. Also, a Class B motorhome or conversion van.

Cassette toilet — A cassette toilet is a type of RV toilet that holds the waste in a small canister made for easy removal and dumping. Cassette toilets hold less waste than most black water tanks.

Cab over bunk — A sleeping area located above the driver's cab in a Class C or Class B motorhome, providing additional sleeping space.

Chassis — The frame that supports a motorhome's engine and body.

Chassis battery — The battery that powers the engine and vehicle functions of a motorhome, separate from the house battery.

Class AClass A motorhomes are the largest and often most luxurious type of motorhome, built on a heavy-duty chassis and offering a high level of comfort and amenities.

Class BClass B motorhomes are compact, drivable RVs built on a van chassis and available with gas or diesel engines. Also called campervans.

Class CClass C motorhomes are the second largest type of motorhome, built on a van chassis and designed for versatility and easy driving.

Cockpit/cab — The front area of a motorhome where the driver and front passenger sit.

Comfort station — A public restroom for campers and travelers. These facilities often include toilets, sinks, and sometimes showers.

Conversion van — A standard van that has been modified with amenities for camping or travel, such as a bed, small kitchen, and sometimes a bathroom. Also called campervans.

Control panel — The central hub in an RV where you can monitor and control various systems such as lights, tanks, and batteries.

Converter — A device that takes the AC power from an external source (like a campground hookup or a generator) and changes it into DC power. DC power charges your RV’s batteries and powers things like the lights, water pump, and other 12-volt systems in an RV.

Cottage RV — An RVezy RV rental that stays in one place, like an Airbnb or Vrbo RV rental. In the United States, a cottage RV rental is sometimes called a stationary RV rental.

Curb weightCurb weight is a measurement of the vehicle's total weight without any cargo.

Letters D-F


Dinghy — A vehicle towed behind a motorhome. Also called a TOAD.

Diesel pusher — A diesel pusher is a nickname that refers to a diesel Class A motorhome. In motorhomes, diesel engines are located in the back of the motorhome and push the RV instead of pulling.

Dinette (dinette bed) — The dinette is a compact table with chairs or booth-style benches. In an RV, the dinette can often be converted into a bed for additional sleeping space.

Dispersed camping Dispersed camping is the official term for free camping on undeveloped public land within the U.S.

Dry bath — A dry bath is an RV bathroom where the shower is separate from the toilet and sink.

Dry weightDry weight is the weight of an RV without any cargo, fluids, passengers, or additional accessories.

Dump station — A dump station is the location where people take their RV to dump the sewage from the black and gray water holding tanks.

Dually — A dually is a slang word for a truck with dual rear wheels on each side. Duallys provide greater stability and towing capacity.


Electricity (at campgrounds) — Refers to the availability of electrical hookups at a campsite. An electrical hookup is sometimes referred to a shore or city power.


Fifth-wheel hitch — A type of hitch that mounts in the bed of a pickup truck. Fifth-wheel hitches are used to tow fifth-wheel trailers.

Freshwater tank — The freshwater holding tank on an RV for potable drinking water. The freshwater tank holds the water for drinking, showering, and using the toilet on the RV.

Freedom camping — Freedom camping is the New Zealand phrase for boondocking.

Full hookupFull-hookup campsites have electricity, water, and sewer connections.

Full timers — Full timers are people who use their RVs as their primary residence.

Letters G-I


Galley — A galley is another name for an RV kitchen.

GCWRGross combined weight rating, sometimes referred to as gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCVRW), is the maximum value at which a combination of loaded vehicles (like a truck towing a travel trailer) can operate safely together.

Generator — A device that produces electricity for an RV when shore power is not available. RV generators can be stationary (built-in) or portable. RV generators can run on gas, diesel, propane, or solar.

Glamping — Glamping is a term that combines the word glamorous and camping. Glamping is a type of camping, but it has amenities and comforts not typically associated with traditional camping.

Gray water tank — The gray water holding tank on an RV holds used (dirty) water from the sink and shower.

GVWRGross vehicle weight rating, sometimes called gross trailer weight rating (GTWR) is the manufacturer-prescribed, maximum weight a vehicle can operate safely when loaded. The GVWR is also sometimes called the fully loaded weight.


Heated tanks — RV holding tanks equipped with a thermal wrap that prevents the contents of the tanks from freezing in cold temperatures.

Heat pump — The system in an RV that provides both heating and cooling using electricity.

Hitch — The hitch is the connection point on a tow vehicle to which a trailer is attached.

Hitch capacity — The maximum weight that a hitch can safely tow.  Hitch capacity involves the strength of the hitch itself.

Holding tanks — The tanks on an RV that hold freshwater, gray water, and black water.

Hookups (RV)RV hookups are either the pedestal or access point in a campground used to connect an RV to utilities like electricity, water, sewer, and cable.

Hose bib — A faucet for connecting a hose to supply water to an RV.

House battery — The battery that powers the living area and appliances in an RV. An RV's house battery is separate from the chassis battery.


Inverter — An RV inverter is a device that turns the power from the RV's batteries (DC) into a type of power that you use at home (AC). AC power is what you typically find in household outlets and is needed to run appliances like microwaves, televisions, or laptop chargers.

Letters J-L


Jackknife sofa — A jackknife sofa is a type of RV sofa that folds flat to create a bed.

Jake brake — A slang word for diesel engine braking.


Kingpin —  A steel pin protruding downward from the front of the fifth-wheel trailer. The kingpin connects the fifth wheel to the fifth-wheel hitch.

Kingpin weight — The weight exerted onto a fifth-wheel's hitch.


Leveling jacks — A manual, hydraulic, or electric device used to level an RV when it's parked. While leveling jacks may stabilize an RV, they are not the same as stabilizing jacks.

Lithium batteries — An advanced type of battery that uses lithium compounds instead of lead and acid.

Letters M-O


Micro trailer — In Canada, tiny trailers or teardrop campers are called micro trailers. Micro trailers are small, lightweight trailers.

MoochdockingMoochdocking is a slang term that describes when RVers mooch off of friends or family members by parking in a driveway, backyard, or the property of someone they know.

Motorhome — A motorhome is a drivable or motorized RV. Motorhomes come in three classes: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

Murphy bed — A bed that folds up into the wall when not in use, saving space in an RV.


National park — A national park is a protected area of natural beauty established by the government to preserve its environment and wildlife. It provides a place for people to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and exploring nature. Canadian national park campgrounds and American national park campgrounds are some of the most popular campgrounds for RV camping.

Newbie — Someone new to the RV lifestyle. Newbies are often learning the basics of RVing and exploring their first adventures on the road.

Nonpotable water — Water that’s not safe to use for eating or drinking. This water can be used for cleaning or flushing toilets but not for consumption.


OEM — Original equipment manufacturer. It refers to a company that produces parts and equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer. For example, an OEM might make the engine that's used in an RV sold by an RV manufacturer.

Off-trackingOff-tracking is when the rear wheels of a vehicle follow a different path than the front wheels. The longer the wheelbase and the sharper the wheel cut, the greater the off-tracking.

Overhead storage — Storage compartments located above head level, often found in the living areas of an RV.

Overlanding — Self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey, not the destination, is the principal goal. Overlanding often involves off-road vehicles and extended trips.

Letters P-R


Park model — A type of RV designed for long-term or permanent placement in a campground or RV park.

Part-timers — People who use their RVs part-time, typically for vacations and short-term travel.

Partial hookupPartial-hookup campsites usually have electricity and water but no sewer.

Pass-through storage — A storage compartment that extends through the entire width of the RV, accessible from both sides.

PayloadPayload is the combined weight of the passengers and cargo you can load safely into an empty vehicle.

Payload capacity Payload capacity is manufacturer-prescribed, and is the maximum weight a vehicle or truck can haul safely in the truck cab, truck bed, or cargo area.

Poopcicle/poop pyramid — Slang terms for the buildup of waste in an RV's black water holding tanks. When waste freezes, it's called a poopcicle. When waste clogs or blocks any part of the blank tank system, it's called a poop pyramid.

Poopsie — A poop oopsie. Poopsie is a slang term describing what happens when sewage leaks or spills out of the black water tank or hose.

Pop-up or pop-up camper — A travel trailer or hybrid trailer that collapses for easy storage and travel.

Pop-top roof — A pop-top roof can be raised or extended upwards to create extra sleeping space. Campervans are the most common type of RV with a pop-top roof.

Potable water — Water that’s safe for eating and drinking. Potable water is essential for cooking, drinking, and personal hygiene in an RV.

Primitive camping — Camping with minimal amenities, often in remote locations. Primitive camping is similar to boondocking.

Provincial park — Provincial or territorial parks are public land areas managed by a province or territory that preserve and promote the historical, natural, and recreational areas across Canada. Provincial and territorial park campgrounds are among the most popular parks for RV camping.

Public lands (American)Public lands in the U.S. are undeveloped areas of land operated by the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Public lands (Canadian)Public lands in Canada are undeveloped land administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Also called crown land.


Radio-free campgrounds — (Canadian) Radio-free campgrounds prohibit noise from radios, generators, drones, televisions, music, or anything else that could disturb another camper.

Restrooms — The facility in a campground that has toilets and sinks. Sometimes, restrooms have showers in the same building. Other times, the showers are located in a separate shower house.

Rig — Another name for an RV.

Road trip — A road trip is a drivable, extended journey with multiple destinations.

RVRecreational vehicle. This term encompasses all types of motorhomes, trailers, and campervans.

RVDARecreational Vehicle Dealers Association, a trade organization representing RV dealers.

RVer — An RVer is a person who participates in RVing. RVers often form a community with shared experiences and tips.

RVezy RVezy is an all-in-one platform for buying, selling, and renting recreational vehicles.

RVIARecreational Vehicle Industry Association is an organization that sets standards for RV manufacturing and safety.

RVing — RVing is the act of traveling or living in a recreational vehicle. RVing can include short trips, long vacations, or full-time living.

RV rental company — A company or marketplace that rents or facilitates RV rentals. Renting an RV from a peer-to-peer RV rental company like RVezy is one of the easiest ways to rent an RV.

Letters S-U


Sani stationSani station is another name for a dump station in Canada.

Seasonal campsite — A seasonal campsite is a designated camping spot that can be rented for an entire camping season, typically lasting several months. Campers can set up their RVs and leave them in place, returning to use the site throughout the season without having to pack up and move each time.

Self-contained RV — Self-contained RVs have a place for you to eat, sleep, and use the toilet inside. These units are equipped to operate independently without external hookups.

Shower house — A building located in a campground with either free or pay-to-use showers.

Shore powerShore power is another name for the electrical supply at a campground.

Shore power cord — The power cable used to connect an RV to shore power at a campground.

Site — A designated camping spot in a campground. RV campsites often have amenities such as full or partial hookups, a fire pit, and a picnic table.

Slides or Slide outs — Slide outs, sometimes called pop outs, are extendable walls in a motorhome, travel trailer, truck camper, or fifth-wheel trailer. Slides increase the living space when the RV is parked.

Slide topper — A type of awning that extends over an RV slide to protect it from dirt, debris, rain, or snow.

Snowbird — A snowbird is a person who travels from colder regions to warmer climates during the winter months. Snowbirds often travel in an RV and live part-time in a seasonal campsite.

Solar controller — A device that regulates the voltage or current coming from the solar panels and prevents the RV's batteries from overcharging.

State park — State parks are public land areas managed by a state that preserve and promote the historical, natural, and recreational areas across the U.S. state park campgrounds are among the most popular parks for RV camping.

State trust land — State trust lands are parcels of land granted to a state by the federal government to generate revenue for public institutions. State land isn't public land, but many states allow some level of public access for recreational activities.

Stationary RV — An RVezy RV rental that stays in one place, like an Airbnb or Vrbo RV rental. In Canada, a stationary RV is called a cottage RV.

Stabilizing jacks — Devices used to prevent an RV from swaying or moving when parked.

Stealth camping — Stealth camping is parking in public areas with the intent to go unnoticed and stay overnight for free. Stealth camping is illegal in some locations.

Stinky slinky — A nickname or slang term for an RV sewer hose. The term came from the odor often associated with the hose.

Sticks and bricks — Slang for a traditional home, as opposed to an RV or mobile home.

Sway bar — Equipment used to improve towing stability.


Tag axle — A third axle located behind the rear drive axle of a motorhome. Tag axles typically appear on motorhomes with longer chassis. Gas and diesel motorhomes can have a tag axle.

Tail gunner — The person who drives at the end of a caravan of RVs to ensure no one is left behind.

Tail swingTail swing is when the rear overhang swings in the opposite direction of your turn. If you turn to the right, the rear overhang swings to the left.

Teardrop trailer — A small travel trailer shaped like a teardrop. Teardrop trailers typically fit into the tiny trailer or micro trailer category.

Three-way refrigerator — An RV refrigerator that runs on AC power, DC power, or propane.

TOAD — The nickname for a vehicle towed (four-wheels down, two-wheels down, or on a dolly) behind a motorhome. Also called a dinghy.

Tongue jack — A device used to raise and lower the front of a trailer to connect or disconnect it from the tow vehicle.

Tongue weightTongue weight is a specific measure of the load (weight) placed on the hitch ball.

Tow rating — The maximum weight a motorhome or travel trailer can tow safely, as determined by the manufacturer. Also called towing capacity.

Toy hauler — A toy hauler is a type of RV with a built-in garage space made for transporting motorcycles, ATVs, and other toys.

A type of RV with a built-in garage space for transporting motorcycles, ATVs, and other toys.

TV —Short for the word tow vehicle. A tow vehicle is used to tow a trailer or other towable RV.


Underbelly — The underside of an RV, often covered and insulated to protect the components from road debris and weather.

Letters V-Z


Van life — A minimalist lifestyle that includes living in a van, campervan, or conversion van. Van lifers often prioritize simplicity and mobility. #vanlife

Volt (12) — 12-volt refers to a low-voltage electrical system commonly used in an RV. An RV battery typically operates at 12 volts.


WallydockingWallydocking is a slang term RVers use to describe staying overnight for free in a Walmart parking lot.

Wagon master — The leader of an RV caravan or group who is responsible for organizing, leading, and directing the group.

Washroom — Another name for a restroom.

Weekend warriors — People who use their RVs primarily on weekends and short trips.

Weight distribution — Equipment used to improve towing stability and distribute the trailer's weight more evenly.

Wet bath — A wet bath is an interior RV bathroom with a toilet and shower in the same space.

Wheelbase — The wheelbase is the distance between a vehicle's front and rear axles.

Wi-Fi — A wireless internet connection. Many RV parks and campgrounds offer Wi-Fi to their guests.

Wild camping — Camping off-the-grid with no services or amenities typically found at RV parks or developed campgrounds. Most RVers say they are wild camping when they camp for free on public lands—also known as boondocking or freedom camping.

WinterizationWinterizing is the process of preparing an RV for storage during the winter months, including draining water systems and adding antifreeze to prevent freezing.

Meagan Butler
Meagan Butler

Meagan is a glitter-loving, trailer-towing RV content writer. When she's not camping in her Winnebago Solis, she spoils her dogs, takes landscape photography, and supports the RV community.

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