Where does ride or die come from?
As both a term and concept, ride or die was spread through hip-hop music and culture, and eventually gained popularity in the mainstream lexicon as an expression used in reference to any friend, family member, or romantic partner who will always stick by your side—who will ride or die with you to the end.
According to the Ride or Die Project, a website dedicated to exploring the stories of women who have lived by the ride-or-die philosophy, the concept of ride or die emerges in 1990s hip-hop as a modern, urban take on the legendary outlaw couple Bonnie and Clyde. The term ride or die appears in early 2000s rap music, notably a 2000 song, “Ryde or Die, Bitch” by the Lox. Early uses of the term were typically applied to women, with phrases such as ride or die bitch or ride or die chick being used to refer to a woman who is willing to ride with, or support, her partner (especially a man living a dangerous lifestyle) no matter what, even if it means death.
In the 2010s, ride or ride expanded from its original “gangster” context. The Ride or Die Project, for instance, generally use the term to signify “undying loyalty” to a partner, especially in the context of the mass incarceration of Black man in the US. While some Black women have embraced ride or die as an empowering and positive construct, others have challenged it as a harmful stereotype and sexist model of Black womanhood.
Examples of ride or die
Who uses ride or die?
Ride or die (sometimes hyphenated as ride-or-die) can be used in different ways. It can be used as a modifier in the context of a friend, fan of a musical artist, or user of a brand, among many other things. It can also be used as a noun, as in “My sister is my ride or die.” Even though it is based on a verb phrase, it’s less commonly used as a verb, but it can be, as in “Don’t ride or die with someone who doesn’t value you.”
This is not meant to be a formal definition of ride or die like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ride or die that will help our users expand their word mastery.