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'Ride or Die': Original Meaning and What It Means Today

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.


People use the expression "ride or die" often these days. It is heard a lot on reality shows such as Big Brother, Survival and Amazing Race where a contestant team up with another and that person is later referred to as a "ride or die."

What "ride or die" means today has almost nothing to do with what it originally meant.



Originally "ride or die" had nothing to do with a relationship as the phrase means today. It actually did involve riding. It is a biker's expression meaning a person would rather die if he couldn't ride. That's how important riding has always been to a biker.

Some people might think about riding a motorcycle when they use the expression today, but "ride or die" means so much more. While the expression includes two verbs, most people often use it as a noun.

"Ride or Die: Two Nouns

Today, people say, "He is my ride or die." Ride is a noun. In fact, ride is a person and the direct object of the state of being verb. Ride in that sense means someone to ride out any situation with or would die trying. Therefore, both of you could ride the waves together. Do you see now how "ride or die" is no longer limited to what a biker would say?

Your "ride or die" is a person rather than something you do. Therefore, it is used in that sense as a noun. Let's see how it works as a verb.

"Ride or Die": Two Verbs

In addition to the expression being used as two nouns, it can also be used as two verbs. The first verb is "ride" which could mean several things.

  1. A person could sit on and control the movement of an animal such as a horse.
  2. A person could sit on and move a bicycle or motorcycle.
  3. A person could be transported in a vehicle while he sits back and relaxes without exerting any energy at all.
  4. He could ride a roller coaster and have fun while doing so.
  5. Surfers enjoy riding a wave.

The second verb is "die." When people use the expression "ride or die," the verb "die" is hyperbole. That is a figure of speech that is an exaggeration of the length one would go to for a friend. One wouldn't actually die, but saying it illustrates the seriousness of the relationship.

Co-hosts of "The Real"

Co-hosts of "The Real"

Some "Ride or Die" Relationships

It is obvious when some relationships are "ride or die." Those who remember Roy Rogers and Dale Evans know that the husband and wife co-stars actually did have a "ride or die" relationship on their western television show.

Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham are each other's "ride or die." They have been in a serious relationship for over 36 years. Even though they never married, one could surely say the other is their "ride or die."

The co-hosts of The Real daytime television talk show appear to be one another's "ride or die." Tamara Mowry-Housley is no longer on the show, but when she was there with Jeannie Mai, Loni Love, and Adrienne Houghton they often talked about being each other's "ride or die."The ladies were friends and did things together even when they were not on the air. They teased one another and had a good time on their show. This indicates that a "ride or die" does not have to be a romantic relationship.

On Big Brother 19, two contestants Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf often referred to themselves as "ride or die." Their showmance continued after their season of the reality show ended. Cody and Jessica were evicted from the Big Brother show, but they teamed up and won The Amazing Race 30 in their "ride or die" relationship.

Jess and Cody got married on October 13, 2018. Cody already had a daughter from a previous relationship. Then he had two more daughters with Jess. This surely proves that a "ride or die" relationship can develop into something much more.

Your "Ride or Die"

Good for you if you have a "ride or die" relationship with someone. It is always good to have someone who has your back whether you are riding on motorcycles, bicycles, or in cars.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 31, 2019:

The Sampsons, yes, when most people use the expression today it is a noun. Example: Bev is my "ride or die." That is definitely a noun because Bev is the "ride or die" even though she is a person.

We remember from our English classes that a noun is a person, place of thing.

Thanks for letting me know you learned something from my article.

It is always my intent for people to learn something from what I write.

The Sampsons from The Ozarks, Missouri on January 31, 2019:

Well, I learned something here. I had no idea this could be a "noun". I guess my husband and I - of 35 years - are each others riders, and hopefully a l-o-n-g way off for the other! Yikes!

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on January 31, 2019:

This is so cool. I use this term a lot, in its modern context and never thought much about what it could have originated from.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 30, 2019:

Tim, I am always interested in sayings and their origins. I watch a lot of reality shows, and the contestants usually talk about having a "ride or die."

Whenever I am interested in something and do the research, I might as well share with others who might also be interested in the same topic. There is no need for the research to go to waste.

As usual, thanks for reading and commenting.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on January 30, 2019:

I wouldn't be surprised if this phrase really goes back to the west, Margaret. But it makes sense for it to come out of biker culture.

I guess my wife and I are like that. But neither one of us would jeopardize the other. That's ride and be "stupid." That's like your video was talking about.

Great article on a topic that's important today.

Much respect,


PoetikalyAnointed on January 30, 2019:

Hello Margaret,

I'm glad that I added a different perspective to your topic. It's one that has so many sides to it...

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on January 30, 2019:

PoetikalyAnointed, you have shared some interesting things about "ride or die." When I revise my article, I will include those points because they are good ones.

Believe it or not, I have never been anybody's "ride or die." I missed out on that experience.

PoetikalyAnointed on January 30, 2019:

Very cool and on-point topic for a Hub!

Thanks for sharing the origins of the phrase. I never knew where it started from but It's not hard to figure out-make sense.

Today's meaning has been used in popular songs, movies, tv and so on. I think being a "ride or die" person has it's pros and cons.

Pros: it can show that you're loyal, dependable, trustworthy, strong-willed (in Healty Relationships)

Cons: it can show an unhealthy co-depency in a toxic relationship. Maybe the two of you are scared to move on due to history. Maybe you feel like you will literally die by the hands of the other, if you don't ride...etc.

Sadly, I know a lot about the latter...but I did ride away into the sunset! I would've died if I'd stayed.