Let Her Rip – Meaning and Origin


1. If someone says “let her rip,” it usually means to go faster, to speed up. The “her” in this case typically refers to a vehicle, like a boat or car.

2. This phrase can also mean “go ahead,” as in someone is given permission to do something. You can see an example of this below.

Example: “Hey, can I tell you about my day? It was very eventful and I want to share it with you!”

“Alright, let her rip, Jason. I’m all ears.

1. Full steam ahead
2. Pedal to the metal

The Origin Of ‘Let Her Rip’

Who is the “her” in this phrase and what is she “ripping”? Is it a woman tearing a piece of paper in half? Let’s take a closer look at these two words and see what they mean within the context of this expression.

The word “her” is sometimes used in connection with vehicles or machinery (e.g., someone might call their car a she or her). On the other hand, the word “rip” is sometimes used in relation to speed (e.g., someone might say they ripped through the water in their new motor boat). So basically, the word “her” in this phrase generally refers to a vehicle, and the word “rip” means to make said vehicle go faster.

Now, then, how old is this phrase? The oldest example I could find of it with its “go faster” meaning is from a book titled Out West, published in the year 1910:

“Git up more steam–this ain’t a funeral! Let her rip! Don’t mind the speed limit! Keep the whistle going!”

The “her” referenced in the quote is a train.

What about the idiom with its other meaning, that is, ” to give someone permission to do something”? The earliest I could find it used in such a way is from the newspaper Farmington Enterprise, 1809:

“‘Say,’ said Tommy, ‘did I ever tell you about the circus we had at our house the other night?’ ‘No,’ said I, settling back in my chair, ‘let her rip.’ “

In summary, this phrase is at least over 200 years old! Neat.

Example Sentences

Here is an example of this idiom in a sentence:

  • While I was driving on a mostly empty highway, my friend suggested that I let her rip. However, I am a safe driver so I promptly refused the idea.

Here is an example of a similar phrase in a sentence:

  • I was running late for work, so I had to put the pedal to the medal and rush through my morning routine.

Tip: This website has meanings for phrases, and a lot of them too. Do you know how to find our list so you can see them? If not, it’s easy. There is a menu at the top, select a letter from it and it will take you to a list of common phrases and sayings.