Laughable Oil and Gas Lingo

oil and gas lingo - TurconiMaria Turconi
External Affairs Intern
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation



Oil and gas lingo often provides some good laughs for others who may not be familiar to the industry, especially when you’re an intern trying to learn.

Americans seem to have a knack for naming and renaming things. Nothing says innovative better than a catchy name, slogan or acronym. Every industry takes it upon itself to create their own lingo to describe their equipment, operations and sometimes employees. The oil and gas industry is no different. There could be a whole dictionary of oil and gas lingo.

As an intern with the industry I had to catch onto some of the lingo on the fly and, surprisingly, there have been multiple instances where one of these terms has induced some giggling. So I compiled a list of some of the oil and gas lingo that threw me for a loop when I first started. I’ve included my original guesses for your entertainment.

Animal Terms Used in Oil and Gas Lingo

Farm animals seem to be a reoccurring theme in this industry. Consider these examples:


My Guess: A farm animal, star of Charlotte’s Web, bacon, ribs, generally adorable pink creatures.

Laughable Oil and Gas Lingo

“Pig in a Bucket” – Ben Salter, Flickr

Oil and Gas Translation: Pipeline cleaning and measuring tool (also known as a pipeline inspection gauge or “PIG” and depicted below).

oil and gas lingo

“Pig Launcher”

My Guess: A person whose occupation is to release a pig during pig races at county fairs.

Oil and Gas Translation: equipment used to insert a pig into the pipeline.

“Pig Catcher”

My Guess: A person whose occupation is to coral a runaway pig.

Oil and Gas Translation: Equipment used to remove the pig from the pipeline after cleaning and measuring

This video explains how a pig launcher, pig and pig catcher work to clean and measure a pipeline.


My Guess: The head of the common, yet majestic farm animal, the horse.

Oil and Gas Lingo horse head

Oil and Gas Translation: The curved guide or head piece on the top of an oil well.

“Dog House”

My Guess: A figurative place where people go when they’ve made a mistake; an outdoor shelter for a domesticated dog.

Oil and Gas Translation: The steel-sided room adjacent to the rig floor, usually having an access door close to the driller‘s controls. This general-purpose shelter is a combination tool shed, office, communications center, coffee room, lunchroom and general meeting place for the driller and his crew.

Some More Odd Ones from Oil and Gas Lingo

Oil and gas lingo isn’t limited to laughable animal terms, however. There’s plenty more. Here are some of them.


My Guess: Lovable bear with a weakness for honey from the children’s series “Winnie the Pooh.”

Oil and Gas Translation: Pull Out Of Hole.

“Granny Rag”

My Guess: A piece of cloth carried around by an elderly woman used a variety of ways, often as a Kleenex for small children.

Oil and Gas Translation: Type of coating or method of coating a pipeline in the field rather than a factory applied coating.


My Guess: A day off from work.

Oil and Gas Translation: Hole in the protective coating of a steel pipeline.


My Guess: A cool car that was originally designed for military use on uneven terrain.

Oil and Gas Translation (n): another term for a hole in the protective coating of a pipeline


My Guess: As in “Stubbing your toe,” painful accident; can be a weekly occurrence for clumsy people.

Oil and Gas Translation: Length of a small diameter distribution pipeline from the main line to the customer’s property or meter location

Still More Oil and Gas Lingo

There are several other terms from the industry that, while more straightforward than some of the above, still need interpretation. Like these:

“Rig Up”

As the child of two native Pittsburghers my original guess was derived from the common yinzer phrase “red up” which means “get ready.”

My Guess: Get dressed, prepare to leave, hurry

Oil and Gas Translation: To make ready for use. Equipment must typically be moved onto the rig floor, assembled and connected to power sources or pressurized piping systems.

Turns out I wasn’t too far off on this one.

“Mud Logger”

My Guess: A logger who cuts down trees in very muddy conditions.

Oil and Gas Translation: A technician who uses chemical anlysis, micorscopic examination of the cuttings, and an assortment of electronic insturments to monitor the mud system for possible indications of hydrocarbons.

“Kick Off Point (KOP)”

My Guess: The start of swim meets when the swimmers “kick off” form the wall or starting block.

Oil and Gas Translation:: The kickoff point is the location at a given depth below the surface where the wellbore is deviated in a given direction.

Oil and gas lingo

“Christmas Tree”

My Guess: Fresh cut evergreens people decorate to celebrate Christmas.

OIl and Gas Translation: An assembly of valves, gauges, and chokes mounted on a well casing head to control productio and the flow of oil to the pipelines.

oil and gas lingo tree

“Skidding the Rig”

My Guess: Dropping the rig and somehow leaving a black scratch on the well pad.

Oil and Gas Translation: Moving a derrick from one location to another on skids and rollers.

oil and gas lingo - skidding

Source: Drillmec Drilling Technologies


My Guess: The act of falling slightly or completely, over an inanimate object or simply one’s own foot.

Oil and Gas Translation: Making a “trip” is the procedure of pulling the entire string of drill pipe out of the borehole and hten running the entire length of the drill pipe back in the hole.


My Guess: Slang term that is a synonym for “cool” or “awesome.”

Oil and Gas Translation: Pipe coating.


My Guess: Piece of furniture often used to store clothing.

Oil and Gas Translation: Mechanical coupling used to join joints or lengths of pipe rather than threading or welding.

I hope that provides some insight into oil and gas lingo for those of you who may be unacquainted with the details of the industry.

Editor’s Note: Here’s more oil and gas lingo.

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31 thoughts on “Laughable Oil and Gas Lingo

  1. Great post. 50 years ago when I entered the oil industry from aerospace they sent me to location with directions that included CG. To me that meant center of gravity. Really meant cattle guard.

  2. Thank you for the post. I am interviewing for a law firm that concentrates on oil/gas related clients. Any help to understand the foreign lingo is greatly appreciated!

    • Interesting field, but I’ll suggest you spend some time in the field to learn not only the lingo but what they do and/or mean. I’d also suggest you brush up on your math, at least through Algebra II. Otherwise everyone will roll their eyes when they find out you are a “worm”.

      “Worm” is newby who doesn’t know anything

  3. Thanks for sharing. This is something that we encounter daily in our language translation and interpretation services. One of the interesting aspects is when we are in a live event session and the speaker begins to use certain terms mentioned above. In different languages / cultures there may be completely different meaning and we always have to be ready to deliver the correct message.

  4. Great post and I’ve heard a few jaw-droppers myself. I was confounded by a set of directions to a remote South Texas land rig once, and could not figure out PP. I kept thinking “what PowerPoint” ? Go past the split big oak with the PP — pie pan. Just gotta laugh.

  5. There are a lot of terms in the wellhead end that I’ve had people ask me “You work with What?”… Slips, Skirts, Nipples, Studs w/ Nuts, doughnuts, goatheads, Chokes, Stripper Rubbers, to name a few.

  6. Maria should know that there are in fact several whole dictionaries of these terms, many of which are great metaphors (Christmas tree), invented on the spot by production hands. It seems odd that she would suggest that they are picked on purpose to be cool or are the result of uniquely American cultural traits. British mining terminology is equally colorful, imaginative, etc., and the geological sciences are full of colorful words borrowed from a multitude of languages, rather than the stiff formal latinate lingo of biology (although even that is full of jokes known only to students of dead languages). But there is indeed a lot of humor involved in the learning curve, so her brief list of a few entertaining surprises is a fun read. I am grateful to have had to learn these terms rather than Default Rate Swaps or Mortgage-Backed Securities to just begin to delve into the ponderous language of finance, for example!

  7. Excellent, Maria! Here are some more:

    Mule Shoe
    Dog Leg
    Monkey Boards
    Geronimo Line
    Crows Foot
    Landing Gear

    These are just a few!

  8. Don’t buy into the “pipeline inspection gauge” explanation for pig — they were called pigs long before that. The earliest examples pre-dated inspection gauges but were still called “pigs” for an entirely different reason. Does anyone know what that was? (hint — they sounded like pigs squealing)

    • In the old days a chunk of hay was covered in barb wire – when it was shot through a section of pipe it “squealed” through the pipe as the barb wire scratched the metal. Sounded like a pig – hence the term PIG.

        • Why can we not like comments here?!! Lots of great comments and funny article. PIG was definitely the first one I learned when I started 3 years ago but what really got my goat was all the acronyms for various things. Equipment, procedures, pipeline systems, types of drawings, compliance, etc…I thought that I was at some type of UN meeting! Funny read Maria.

  9. Great post Maria! I had a similar situation when I first started in the Oil & Gas world. Most of your assumptions were similar to mine. The only one where I differed – the Pig Launcher….I was picturing the Angry Birds app.

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  11. The Dresser reference to a pipeline coupling actually goes back to the early years of the oil industry in it’s birthplace of Pennsylvania. Solomon R Dresser developed the first dresser coupling in the 1880’s in the first billion dollar oilfield in Bradford, PA. The company that bears his name still exists as a subsidiary of GE oil and gas still makes couplings in Bradford.

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  16. It stood out to me when you explained that the valves, gauges, and chokes used to control flow in a well casing are referred to as a “Christmas Tree.” My brother is looking for an equipment supplier to work with so he can get the drilling materials he needs to create an oil well on his new land. I’ll send him this article so he can be more informed about the parts he’ll need for the well casing!


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