The Drag Queen Dictionary

Learn the language of drag

The Drag Queen Dictionary

Drag queens speak their own language and the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race has introduced the lingo to a whole new audience. But phrases like “sickening” and “No T, no shade” leave some of us scratching our heads.

So we thought it would be the perfect idea to assemble a guide to drag lingo — a RuPaul’s Drag Race Dictionary if you will. You can pull it out and reference it while you’re watching our Season 5 contestant videos or while you’re watching season five that is set to premiere in January. And this is just Volume 1. Stay tuned some time in the future for Volume  2.

So let’s get to it, HUNTIES.

The Drag Race Dictionary Vol. 1

Shade, Throwing Shade, Shady — When a person is doing you wrong in some way.

Ex: That bitch is throwing shade. She’s telling everyone I had my lips done.  

No T, No Shade — No disrespect. According to RuPaul herself via Twitter: “No T No Shade = I’m not trying to come for you or offend you, but this is what its really like.”

Ex: She’s the one who looks like a cross between Lisa Rinna and Mick Jagger. No T, no shade.

Sickening — When something is really amazing and fierce.

Ex: Whatever girl, who cares what that shady bitch is saying. Your lips are sickening.

Reading, Reading to filth — To really let someone have it; to insult or criticize.

Ex: Well, if I see her out tonight, I will read her to filth. I will tear her shit up like newspaper.

Beating your face/mug — When a drag queen puts on her makeup.

Ex: Well girl, if you’re gonna even make it out tonight, then you better start beating that mug. OOOOOKay.

Booger — A drag queen who lacks a certain finesse.

Ex: Oh I know, grrrr. I ain’t about to leave this house lookin like a booger.

Fish — A particularly girly drag queen; female realness.

Ex: That’s right bitch. You’re gonna walk up in that club serving  fish.

Tuck — When a drag queen hides their business, sometimes using duct tape.

Ex: Well in that case, I better tuck.

Drag mother/daughter — A drag mother is usually a queen who first turns out a drag queen, making that queen her drag daughter.

Ex: So anyway … you know who her drag mother is, don’t you? That bitch Pat Cho-Weave …

kiki — A kiki is a party, for calming all your nerves. It’s a gathering of sorts, where you gossip and talk about this and that.

Ex: Girl we’re supposed to be getting ready but this has somehow turned into a kiki.

realness — to represent a particular look or act very well.

Ex: You know, if I see her tonight, I’m actually not going to read her. I’m going to act like she’s my best friend. I’ll be  serving Meryl Streep realness. Oscar-worthy.

Work/werk — A number of meanings: good job, bring it, etc.

Ex: Werrrrrk, bitch.

Shashay Away — To leave; RuPaul tells her eliminated queens to do this.

Ex: I’ve exhausted that tragic conversation above, so I think I’ll sashay way now.

Shantay You Stay — the opposite of sashay away. I’m defining Shantay (just the phrase said by RuPaul on Drag Race), but see the comments below if you want to define that.

Ex: Oooooh, but I’ve still got a few more words. Shantay I stay.

Serve — to deliver or present yourself in a particular way.

Ex: She’s serving you fish and it ain’t on a platter.

Hunty — It’s really just the term of endearment “honey.” There’s a less clean version of how the word was derived, but if I explained it, I wouldn’t be able to call you that.

Ex: Werk that ass, hunty.

Trivia: Most of the modern drag terminology comes from the ballroom scene from the 1980s as documented in the film “Paris is Burning.”


  • Cat van Zyl

    1.Duct tape? How? Ow!? and Wow!

    2.Fish. You know this one irritates me, and why. Will be overlooked and playfully accepted into my vocabulary.

    3.I’m SO glad you wrote this. I actually googled Hunty and didn’t get an answer that fit. Also, words like “Sickening” I wouldn’t have guessed meant the opposite.

    A must read for all of us fishy women so we can understand while we watch this fabulous show! I love RuPaul and can’t wait to see what this season brings. :)

    • Nisheybrown

      So wat does all t all shay mean

      • e jerry powell

        Well, Tea is scurrilous gossip.
        Shade is throwing attitude, so all tea all shade pretty much means I’m coming for you. From the front, not from the side, not from the back.

      • Abenjacan

        T means the truth. And shade, you know, is being honest and a little bit disrespectful, but also (sometimes) funny, clever and ingenious in the way you say that thruth face to face. “All T, all shade” is kind of a cruelty between friends.

    • Miah James

      To answer your 1st Q…All MEN can tuck! I don’t care if you’re G.W. Bush, Lady Bunny, or Dennis Rodman. Trust! If you’re a member of the “Beans -N- Franks or Twigs -N- Berries” team (male sex…even if you’re a straight male as long as you were born with the male sex organ) then you naturally have a “pocket” if you will? There’s a pocket on the inside of your inner thy on both legs where the “Beans or Berries” can and sometimes naturally by themselves go. LOL! Remember…it’s got a head too! Yes, I went there! LOL! Anyways, back to what I was saying…The testicals are gently placed in their pouches and the “Franks or Twigs” if you’re still following? Well, they are basically pushed down towards the ground and the “Snake” is pulled to the backyard as far back as allowed. Rather the length of your COCK will pull back as far as it needs to go. Where you then place Duct tape…LOL! Yeah this would be the OUCH PART! LOL! OMGAWD! You just have to be sure secure it all in the right places using the least amount of tape as possible, Cause Hunty if you don’t secure what you got…Girrrrrrl you’ll look like you got the worst case of hemorrhoids EVER! Now don’t you go all Savings Queen and skimp on tape Hunty, cause dem look painful!

      • Miah James

        Should have said it not they. Typically most males only have one cock…but Hunty if you find one that’s got two? Well, you ‘betta ‘Werk!

  • Cat van Zyl

    Oops! I forgot to ad that that promo banner is fierce! RuPaul is gorge.

  • Ukme

    Hunty is a combination of Cunt and Honey. It’s a cleaner version of the word Cunty !

  • Vee_evans

    Thank you! I love this show but can’t understand the lingo from time to time.

    • Miah James

      You’re not alone Hunty! My Absolute FAVORITE saying is…Oooh Girrrrl, You’ve got she mail!

  • Gorillatron

    Half of these phrases are explained in detail in the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning,” chronicling the ballroom scene in NY in the late 80s. Reading is FUNDAMENTAL.

    • Miah James

      Ooooh Girrrrl, I LOVE your name! Soulful!

  • BigRedEO

    It’s Chante, not Shantay. It’s actually French for “charm” or “I’m charmed.”

    • mimimemo

      Enchante with accent aigu means charmed. Chante is the past participle of to sing.

    • Branden B

      No, I promise you in this case, it’s Shantay.

      • @dmarco_

        Sashe, Shantay!

    • Fishy

      Shante as RuPaul spells it in her album Supermodel of the world.

  • Paula

    Thanks for helping me increase my pop culture relevance.

  • meemaw

    Thanks, I needed this!

  • Jennifer R. Cross

    ……………… CHECK IT

  • Kelly O’Melia

    What about ….The house down :-) or or Alyssa Edwards gives me LIFE! or I am LIVING for Jinkx Monsoon.

    • Branden B

      Those are pretty self-explaintary. But I’m hoping to do a vol. 2 some day.

  • Bnvr

    Fish was used so much this season. Misogyny. Why not say serving it straight Chi-Chi Rodriguez. Or serving it better than any Thai.

  • Alan

    That’s what kiki means OUTSIDE of the drag world. In terms of a drag, kiki means when a drag queen has sex with another drag queen.

    • Ryan

      No, having sex with another drag queen is a kai kai not a kiki.

  • Alan

    AND hunty is a mixture between “Honey” and “Cunty.”

    Not a term of endearment.

    • J. Elegana

      It’s just cunt, not cunty.

      • Squeaky

        No, it’s cunty. Cunty means the same thing as fish, ultra-feminine.

        It’s actually not a term of endearment or a slur, it’s a state of being. ‘I’m feeling cunty.’

  • missgaller

    Is it kiki or kai kai?

    • L’extravanza

      Kiki is to kick it with your girls and kai kai is to get down and dirty.

    • OhioGay

      It depends on the situation. Kai kais are for squirrel (male) friends-typically full of homo-erotica. A Kiki is just any fun party to blow of steam and chillax.

  • xoxo

    OMG I had so much fun reading all this. Maybe I will introduce those terms here in the drag community in Latin America.

  • Specialk

    I don’t see “squirrel friends” anywhere…stupid question perhaps but what does it mean?

    • Malaysian

      I think its just an innovative and different way to say “girl friends” coz they sound similar . U know how we gays /drag queens like to be different :)

      • OhioGay

        Squirrel friends are friends who have tails…except they’re in the front. Because they’re dicks.

        • WillMoor

          Yet Ru Paul calls Michelle Visage and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark her squirrel friends as well.

          • Drew Bird

            Was thinking the same thing myself

    • Scott Diablo

      Squirrel friends are a group of drag queens. Because they’re all hiding some nuts.

  • deevus28

    Luv dis shit…what’s the T :)

  • lmanning

    What is the name of the stocking fabric drag queens use when they need to bare skin but don’t want to show naked skin.

  • CSG101

    what is dust? Detoxx uses it against Coco

    • Ravey

      From what I gathered, “Dust” is pretty much the same as “Shade.” — someone correct me if I’m wrong. :)

  • Mary

    What does peanut butter mean???

    • JP

      “That dude is just like peanut butter — his legs spread for the bread.”

  • hal

    what happened to vol 2?

  • Emppumamma

    I’m not sure if it has came up yet, but what exactly is glucking/klucking/to gluck/cluck (sp?????)
    I keep hearing it, but my non-english-speaker ear can’t make out how it’s written, so sorry for that.

    For ex. it was in the Lady Marmalade song with The Heathers, said by Carmen, but I keep hearing it in other places too. It’s something rude or sexual, probably?

    • Emppumamma


      THE TERM WAS CLOCKING, and I can’t hear anything right.

      I uncovered the truth myself, way to go me! :”’D

      “Clocked: For a myriad of reasons, most drag queens don’t come out until the nighttime. That being said, if a queen were to walk down the street in the daylight and you could tell she was a man, she’d be clocked.”

  • SLS_NM

    Funny to me that the article attributes most of the slang to Paris is Burning – trust me, queens (and not just drag queens) were using a lot of those terms long before PIB was released. At least I heard older queens talking like that in the late 70s/early 80s. Btw, I love PIB & RPDR!!

  • Justin Beaver

    What about Sqirrel friends?