Glossary of RV Terms

The RV community is just like any other—it has its own set of words, abbreviations, and slang terms. In this glossary we define the common terms and some of the more unusual slang.

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Back In

A slot in an RV park with a single entrance, designed to be backed into with the RV.


The storage compartment of RVís under the main living area. Basements are generally found on motor homes and fifth wheel trailers.

Batwing Antenna

TV antenna on the roof on an RV characterized by two horizontal elements. Batwing antennas are generally raised and rotated with a hand crank from inside the RV living compartment.

Black Tank

Holding tank connected to the toilet, designed to hold sewage until it can be dumped into a septic system.

Black Water

Waste water from the toilet; sewage. See also Black Tank


Strictly speaking, boondocking is camping far away from civilization without any facilities such as water or electricity; roughing it. In a more general sense it has come to mean camping or parking anywhere without facilities, relying strictly on the comforts provided by the RV. Many RVers refer to spending the night in an interstate rest area, shopping center parking lot, or truck stop, as boondocking.

Brake Controller

Electronic device mounted in the tow vehicle to control the trailer brakes. It is connected to the tow vehicle brake system to sense when braking needs to be applied to the trailer. It has a lever for manually engaging the trailer brakes.

Breakaway Switch

An electrical switch on trailers designed to engage the breaks in case the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle. The switch is connected by a cable to the tow vehicle. Breakaway is detected when the switch cable is pulled out during vehicle separation.


See Slide

Bumper Pull Trailer

See Travel Trailer

Bus Conversion

A passenger bus converted to an RV.

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