Lifestyle

A beginner's guide to RuPaul's Drag Race slang

Do you know your shantay from your sashay?

By Grace O'Neill
RuPauls Drag Race Terms Slang Definitions

Fact: RuPaul's Drag Race is the best show on television. Second fact: Many people are only realising this now. It seems like season 9 has been the tipping point for Drag Race to go ~viral~ and in 2017 you can't swing a sequin-encrusted cat without hitting seven RuPaul-themed memes.

In celebration, we’ve compiled a handy dictionary of the most common RuPaul phrases. It’s basically an A-Z of drag slang, so you can start watching without wondering what the hell anyone is saying half the time. Already a fan? Consider this the best way to test your knowledge.

Beat: To apply your makeup flawlessly.
Used in a sentence: "Girl, you beat your face so good, I can't stop looking at it."

Charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent: The four elements that a queen has to have in abundance to take out the Drag Race crown. It’s also an acronym for cunt, which I only discovered last week despite having seen every episode of the show ever.
Used in a sentence: “You’re going to need to use all your charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to win this challenge.”

Condragulations: The drag version of congratulations.
Used in a sentence: "Condragulations you are the winner of this week's challenge."

Dragmother: Queens on the show often refer to their ‘drag families’, the families they have made with other queens and members of the gay community when their own families wouldn’t accept them. Dragmothers are the queens who took them under their wings and taught them the art of drag. Often, contestants in later seasons’ dragmothers are contestants from earlier seasons.
Used in a sentence: “Alyssa Edwards is dragmother to Gia Gunn, Laganja Estranja and Shangela.”

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Eleganza extravaganza: A runway category in which queens must serve pure elegance.
Used in a sentence: “The category is: eleganza extravaganza.”

Fish: Basically refers to looking/feeling ultra-feminine. To “serve fish” or to feel "fishy" is to be extra girly.
Used in a sentence: "Tonight I am serving pure fish on the runway."

Gag: For something to be so amazing that you have an actual physical reaction.
Used in a sentence: “Her dress on the runway was so good it had me gagging.”

Gurl/girl: The term queens use to address other queens, usually when they're about to read them.
Used in a sentence: “Gurl, look how orange you fucking look.”

Hunty: A term of endearment, interchangeable with the word "hunny", but better. Obviously.
Used in a sentence: "Yas, work that runway hunty."

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Ki ki: To gossip.
Used in a sentence: “Let’s have a ki ki."

The library: Where queens are openly allowed to “read” (see below) each other. RuPaul declares the library “open” during a mini challenge once a season and savagery commences.
Used in a sentence: “The library is officially open.”

Lip sync for your life: The bottom two queens from each week lip sync against each other. Whoever impresses Ru the least is eliminated.
Used in a sentence: “The time has come for you to lip sync for your life. Good luck and don’t fuck it up.”

Read: To criticise or critique. In Drag Race, the act of “reading” is meant to be savage and hilarious. RuPaul opens the “library” where queens read each other once a season. This has spawned the catchphrase “Reading is fundamental”.
Used in a sentence: “I’m sick of the judges reading me for my outfits.”

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Pit crew: RuPaul's team of obnoxiously handsome, topless crew that assist in challenges.
Used in a sentence: “Seriously, how hot are the pit crew?"

Realness: To do something authentically. Often on the runway the queens are “serving XX realness.”
Used in a sentence: “Tonight on the runway I’m serving Vivienne Westwood realness.”

Sashay away: RuPaul tells eliminated contestants to “sashay away”, in what is now one of the show’s most iconic catchphrases.
Used in a sentence: “I'm sorry my dear, but the time has come for you to sashay away.”

Serve: One of the most important terms in the Drag Race vernacular; to serve is to use your look to offer the judges something amazing.
Used in a sentence: “Tonight on the runway I am serving executive realness”.

Shade: Insulting someone in a sly, under-the-radar manner (different to a read).
Used in a sentence: “She was throwing serious shade when she insinuated you let the team down this challenge.”

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Shantay, you stay: The flip-side of “sashay away”, this is how Ru tells a queen who survived the lip sync that she is still in the competition.
Used in a sentence: “Shea Couleé, shantay you stay.”

Sickening: For something to be so incredibly good that it actually makes you sick.
Used in a sentence: “Did you see her Beyoncé impression? It was sickening.”

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Sissy that walk: To hit the runway like a supermodel. (“Sissy That Walk” is also the name of a single from Ru's 2014 album Born Naked, which is played while the queens walk the runway throughout the series).
Used in a sentence: “Now sissy that walk.”

Snatch Game: Now a fan favourite challenge each season, the Snatch Game sees the queens don their best celebrity impressions to play a parody of the ‘70s game show The Match Game.
Used in a sentence: “Who was your favourite in this season’s Snatch Game?”

Tea/tee/T: T refers to gossip. To “spill the tea” is basically to just talk shit together.
Used in a sentence: “Are you free for drinks tonight? I’ve got some tea to spill.”

Tuck: Tucking is the art of taping/pulling back your ~junk~ while in drag.
Used in a sentence: “Go backstage and untuck.”

Work/Werk: To own it on the runway.
Used in a sentence: “You’d better work, bitch.”

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