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5 oilfield slang terms that sound nothing like what they mean

Beyond the dead horse debate of whether hydraulic fracturing’s shortened phrase should include a “k” or not, the oil industry is home to some of the craziest slang I’ve ever read in my life. There are plenty of phrases, some popular while others are most likely outdated and obscure, that have given roustabouts in the fields a sort of clique lingo.  Below are some of the strangest ones obtained from Oil150.com, a historical site that values the significance and impact petroleum has had in the United States for over 150 years.

5. Those active in the Marcellus Shale Play in Western Pennsylvania may have come across the term “Blood-Rock.” Although this sounds like a reference to the gritty shifty behavior of “There Will Be Blood,” by definition it’s the local name for the Big Red Sandstone, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.

"I'm Finished!"

“I’m Finished!” Rhett Sutphin/flickr

4. Another colorful phrase from the eastern oil and natural gas field is “Chocolate Rocks.” It’s not a Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle tour name. It actually refers to bands of red shale occurring between the Second and Third Oil Sands in the Oil Creek, Pennsylvania, field. Also called putty rocks.

3. “Rope Choker”…You come up with your own R-rated punchline for this one, I don’t want that responsibility. But, according to Oil150, Rope Choker means a cable tool driller. The nickname most likely originated in a name-calling feud between the cable tool drillers and the rotary drillers. It is said that the cable tool drillers first began to call the rotary drillers “swivel necks” to show their scorn for the new methods of drilling. Resenting the insult that had been cast at their work, the rotary drillers retaliated by calling the cable tool drillers “rope chokers.” It has also been claimed that the cable tool drillers host this nickname because of their…ahem… intimate and skilled relationship with the Manila rope or rag line. Whether you’ll get beat up for throwing this out there the next time the crew is cracking on each other is up in the air.

"No Dad, its his occupation."

“No Dad, it’s his occupation.”

2. In suit of oilfield putdowns, one might take offense to the term “Biscuit Cutter.” This is simply a clumsy derrick-worker who drops pipe and in doing so, leaves biscuit-like marks on the derrick floor. “Good going Biscuit Cutter, now I have to look at your failure for 12 hours a day.”

1. A term I’ve never heard of outside of William Hung’s American Idol tryouts: “Shebang.” The term means a temporary residence erected by those immigrants to the oil regions who expected to make their fortunes in a year and then retire. Ironic, given that in most media outlets and common conversations these womanless shebangs are referred to as man camps.

"Thanks William Hung!"  Eva Rinaldi/flickr

“Thanks William Hung!” Eva Rinaldi/flickr


  1. I have seen this post three times now ….. This is so stupid

  2. Pup pieces, dogs for a beveling machine, dog legs, camel humps, and many others

  3. Donkey d*ck, I can think of a couple more but I’ll refrain.

  4. And for the news media, it’s frac.

  5. Sand hogs, blowing my load every day keeps the repo man at bay lol

  6. You gotta nipple up. And run it in the hole.

  7. Y’all fixin to head outta here

  8. Robert Patrick what do you guys have?

  9. Going down hole, backside, candy canes

  10. Then “kick rocks” treavor haha

  11. Taking a “hot load” to location.

  12. F*ck stick, kelly c*ck, worms corner, duck ponds.

  13. Yep pig launchers…… HEPPPPPPPPP

  14. Pumping down the back side…..

  15. All that crap was really dumb U no nothing of our slang

  16. Catwalks, V-doors, pup joints, heavy weight, mouse holes, dog house, nipples. We got it all out here in the good ole oil field

  17. Skillet aka isolation blind…camelback, dogleg, barrel aka bevel torch, … brush pig, smart pig, foam pig, pig catcher. …,.what’s the technical name for a pig anyways, hell I been out here 5 years and never heard it

  18. You young uns don’t even know what a cable tool driller is… I’d be very surprised if you knew without looking up on internet. Most of those rigs laid down ages ago.

    • I stopped by an old oilfield museum somewhere in central Louisiana & saw several cable setups & even some old wooden rigs. We weren’t able to stay long, but there were some interesting stuff there.

  19. Cable tool rigs predate even the gasoline engine.

  20. Churn drills, earth sockets, hammer driven surface casing, the sheeps tail….

  21. Tail roll,bogies, cat line, tool pusher, doghouse, some are the same or similar. The experience is not.

  22. Gonna be trippen tonight. Make sure you got plenty of dope.role them joints. Comeing out sideways.watch out from worm hawks.

  23. Derrick floor?!? Wtf?? I think a squirrel wrote this article while wearing the down hole goggles! Smdh

  24. Who’s got the key to the v-door

  25. I miss the Marcellus.. Where I broke into the fields. Decided to hop to Colorado, worst decision of my life now that I’m laid off. Should have stayed in the gas patch!

  26. Words I hated most. “Go get that 46″ .”

  27. Only 2 likes, I feel like it was unappreciated.

  28. Down hole seismograph (weight indicator)

  29. Fishin, the storm, drop the ball, whined it out, blender, the missle, 100bbl a minute, ready on acid, sand off. I’m in utica/Marcellus only heard 1. Before this article was wrote should of done homework BC everyone else’s are better than the author.

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