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JeepBeef Off Road Magazine

Top 20 Terms Every Jeep Newb Needs To Know

List | 5 min read



The term ‘wrangler’ has become synonymous with the Jeep brand. By definition, it’s ‘one who is considered in charge of saddle horses’ or ‘a person that is known to “wrangle”, argue or dispute’. For another popular Jeep model, the Rubicon, it’s highly unlikely it was named after the river that cuts through Northern Italy. Jeepers and Jeephers are well aware the Rubicon Trail which traverses the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California was the true inspiration.

Like any passion, the Jeep lifestyle has a language all its own. Sounding legit at the next meet-up is critical if you don’t want to be branded a total newb. To help ensure you’ve got your rubber on the right side of the road, here’s a top-twenty guide to some of the common lingo and unusual terms you’re most likely to hear tossed like skittles between wheelers, mudders and rockclimbers. 

1. Armor

@gobigladiator. Image of a Jeep Gladiator Decked out in Armor. Instagram

The plethora of protective parts and devices specifically designed for the Jeep brand to keep these vehicles from incurring excessive damage while off-roading. From mud flaps to body armor, these add-ons will help drivers get further down the trail with fewer scratches, scrapes and other destructive harm which commonly occurs as a result of four-wheeling mishaps.

2. Articulation

@cis911. Image of Jeep Showing off its Articulation. Instagram.

Articulation is the ability of the Jeep’s axle to flex vertically in an attempt to keep all four tires in contact with the ground. When one side of the axle rises, the opposite end is forced down to give the vehicle maximum traction and stability. Many Jeep owners are proud of having a significant amount of articulation available to them when they’re adventuring off-road.

3. Bog, Bogging and Bogger

@jeepbuilds4x4. Image of a JL Rubicon Mud Bogging. Instagram

‘Bogging’ or ‘to bog’ actually have different meanings but both commonly refered to when an engine is being driven in too high of a gear for the speed or load of the vehicle. These terms can also refer to a pit of wet dirt called a mud-bog. This is a place where boggers enjoy getting down-and-dirty; this type of activity is often called ‘bogging’.

4. Death Wobble

Similar to the term ‘widowmaker’ (an event or destination that could prove deadly), a ‘death (or speed) wobble‘ will occur when rapid oscillation in the steering components results in the steering wheel moving rapidly from side-to-side. Slowing down or coming to a complete stop will halt this process and letting go of the wheel during this type of an event may have tragic results. The death wobble is often a result of failing or poorly installed steering or suspension components.

5. Gapper

An insulting nickname that is given to spectators on the sidelines whose mouths are gapping i.e. wide-open during manoeuvers made by four-wheelers in action. 

6. Gnarly

Much in the same way surfers boast about their ride, the same is true for four-wheelers. Gnarly could have a positive or negative connotation depending upon the circumstances. Whether the route was overly challenging leading to driver exhilaration, particularly painful or caused damage to the vehicle, this adjective is a go-to descriptor.

7. Granny Gear

The lowest, slowest gear available. Meant to convey that only a grandma would potentially pass a traveler trekking at this tortoise-like pace.

8. Jeep Wave

@cherokeebloodmj. Image of a Jeep Wave. Instagram.

Similar to boaters who acknowledge each other on the water by waving or like bikers do on the open highway, the ‘Jeep wave’ is a friendly greeting shared by owners when driving. It’s become so popular over the years, that it has become a branded benefits program offered by the manufacturer to members of an elite group of newer vehicle purchasers. 

9. Line

A pathway designated by the driver giving them a sightline to the best possible route to overcome an obstacle or to travel on a specific pathway. Choosing the correct line is often essential to being a successful four-wheeler.

10. Mountain Motor versus Mouse

A big-block engine typically bored and stroked to at least 500 cubic inches is known as a ‘mountain motor’. A ‘mouse’, on the other hand, was a name given to Chevy’s small-block V-8 motor which was a poor imitation of Chrysler’s larger “elephant” Hemi engine. 

11. OEM

@joel4jeeps. Image of Brand New JL. Instagram.

Stands for the original equipment from the manufacturer.  When a Jeep is said to be OEM, it means it is in “stock condition” as opposed to having custom items added on after being purchased whether new or used. 

12. Paperweight

A piece or part that has been damaged beyond repair and deemed completely useless.

13. Rockcrawler

@los_trainwreck. Image of Jeep Rockcrawling. Instagram.

A general term used to describe vehicles specifically designed to conquer rocky terrain.

14. Sano or Sanitary

The Urban Dictionary defines Sano as something being sanitary and for Jeep owners, it’s meant to convey a ride that’s superior in comparison to others. It’s also used as a title for a vehicle that’s well-designed, better-engineered, cleanly-built and constructed.

15. Stealership

A derogatory term given to car dealerships where DIY drivers avoid purchasing parts there due to them being notoriously overpriced.

16. Swamped

@wrangler.ar. Image of a Jeep that’s been Swamped. Instagram.

Generally used to describe a vehicle that’s been submerged in water and become stuck as it fills with H2O. It’s also meant to reflect the condition when the engine has stalled during a water crossing.

17. Tail Gunner

This is the title given to the last driver on the trail when a group of four-wheelers are out on an off-roading adventure. It’s the tail gunner’s job to ensure the entire gang has successfully completed the journey and the leader of the pack is known as the trail boss.

18. Tree-Saver

@bruisedjk. Image of a Jeep Tree. Instagram.

Environmentally minded tree-huggers will use a ‘tree-saver’ tool to protect the plant and winch cable from damage. By wrapping this nylon strap around a tree as an anchor point while winching, both the cable and the tree are protected from damage and a potentially premature death.

19. Wrenching

Quite simply, wrenching is a term used by almost any automobile enthusiast who enjoys using tools when working on their vehicle.

20. Yard Sale

@the.jeep.beach. Image of a Fallen Jeep. Instagram.

While motorists are known to brake for these signs when seen on roadways, it’s too late for off-roaders who have lost their load due to a rollover.

Keep up with the ever-evolving lingo landscape. Sign up to join one of the world’s largest communities of Jeep lovers in the country and around the world. 

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JeepBeef Editors

Team effort! JeepBeef editors partner with top content creators & social influencers in the off-road world to share their knowledge and expertise with you. Read it. Love it. Live it.

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