What Does Let Her Rip Mean?

Let Her Rip Meaning

Definition: Allow something to move freely and forcefully.

This utterance is typically an exclamation. Despite having the pronoun her in this expression, it typically refers to objects, such as cars or boats, rather than people.

Origin of Let Her Rip

People first started using this idiom around the year 1850. It is unclear from what or where this expression first developed, but some sources state that it might be related to steamboats.

let er ripApparently, when steamboats were racing very fast, their engines would sometimes explode, or rip, from all the pressure.

Examples of Let Her Rip

In the below dialogue, a woman uses the expression to tell her friend to shoot a firecracker. The expression is spelled without the h in her to demonstrate that this sound is often omitted in spoken English.

Kira: Hey, do you want another hot dog?

Dan: No, thanks. I’m full.

Kira: This is why the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday.

Dan: Well, I’ve never really liked hot dogs, but I do love fireworks! Are you ready to light some of the firecrackers we’ve got?

Kira: You do it first. I like to watch them, not set them off.

Dan: Okay. I’ll do this one first. Are you ready?

Kira: Yep! Let ‘er rip!

let her rip tater chipThe following example shows two women using the idiom while preparing to use a copying machine.

Gertrude: Thanks for showing me how to use this copier. I just wish it were faster. I have to print over a thousand pages.

Ruby: Why don’t you use the new copy machine down the hall?

Gertrude: We have a new copier?

Ruby: Yep! I’ll show you how to use that one, too.

Gertrude: Great! Thanks!

Ruby: Here it is. See? Just put your paper in here, push the green button, and let ‘er rip!

Gertrude: Wow! It’s so fast! Thanks again!

More Examples

In this quote, a man uses the expression to explain that he drove his car extremely fast and held nothing back.

  • “It’s like a step back in time to throw caution to the wind and let her rip.” Edwards entered pit road at 154 mph and stopped his car in the pit box at precisely the right spot. –USA Today

In this example, the author uses the idiom to say that the dancers should dance with all their energy and effort.

  • As it happens, all three of our finalists were on that team, and they’re all healthy now, or healthy enough, anyway, so … let her rip!  –USA Today

Summary

The phrase let her rip describes allowing something to expend its energy freely.