Let's say I buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini, or perhaps borrow one from my parents or a friend. I then proceed to drive it around town and generally just have fun driving the vehicle, with no particular destination in mind.

The term "joyriding" has a connotation of both danger and theft (my emphasis):

a fast and dangerous ride, especially one taken in a stolen vehicle. (Oxford)

"Take it out for a spin" is the best I could come up with, but I'm sure there's gotta be a better term out there.

Are there any terms (not necessarily one word, but as minimal as possible) which mean "to drive a car around for fun" without the connotation of dangerous driving or stolen vehicles?

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    Chuck Berry just went crusin' and riding around in his automobile.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 20:59
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    @TimRomano Fast cars also have great acceleration, and tipping the scales of the speed limit would probably happen.
    – Cat
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:56
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    This will be heavily influenced by region. You'll hear different terms in the UK, Australia, USA, New Zealand, etc. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 1:19
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    @PatrickM, in the UK we have a specific charge for that kind of "borrowing". It's informally called "TWOCking" where the charge is "Taken Without Owner's Consent" Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 7:39
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    TIL that I have never heard the term "joyride" be used as its definition requires.
    – apnorton
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:17

16 Answers 16


The definition of the word "cruise" is as follows:

Sail about in an area without a precise destination, especially for pleasure. (Oxford)

Although that pertains more to sailboats, I do believe it can also be used for land vehicles as well. You can say that you were "cruising around town," as an example.


Excursion applies to a brief pleasure trip, usually no more than a day in length. It is the preferred term esp. in railroad and steamship use.

  • An excursion is taken more for pleasure than for practical reasons.

Jaunt carries a stronger implication of casualness and informality and is esp. applicable to short trip away from one's home, usually for pleasure or recreation.

  • they are off for a day's jaunt.

    (MW dictionary of synonyms)


"go for a hoon (in the car)" works in New Zealand english.

  • "Hooning" exists in British English, too. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 22:24
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    Interesting. This is not one of those things that made it to the US; I'm quite confident that no one here would understand you.
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 15:18
  • May have had no joyride in the Atlantic.
    – Narasimham
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 17:26
  • "Hoon" is very well known in some car circles (at very least the US-based site Jalopnik).
    – mskfisher
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 11:01
  • @DavidRicherby It is also very common in Australian English, particularly news reports, e.g. A hoon has crashed into a tree after spinning out of control, blah blah blah...
    – Dog Lover
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 3:01

Fast cars also have great acceleration, and tipping the scales of the speed limit would probably happen.

I doubt you have the owner's permission to do 90 on the side streets; joyride is appropriate:

joyride /ˈdʒɔɪˌraɪd/ noun -dictionary.com

  1. a pleasure ride in an automobile, especially when the vehicle is driven recklessly or used without the owner's permission.

Can I borrow your keys to the Ferrari? I just want to take it for a spin. {lies!} Beat city here we come!


Joyriding is in fact rarely done in stolen cars, because it's not theft unless you intend to permanently deprive its owner of it. Merely taking a car out for a spin and then leaving it crashed in a ditch is criminal damage, but it's not theft, since you may reasonably presume that the owner will get it back. Hence in the UK there is a separate offence of "Taking without owner's consent" that applies to motor vehicles, and there's a verb derived from that, which is "twoccing" (or "twocking").

  • The offence of Grand Larceny applies to thefts above $1000. I don't think it makes a difference if the theft is 'temporary' or not.
    – jrrk
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:04
  • @user65877 You may not think it makes a difference, but it does. It's not theft or larceny if you intend to return the item that you have misappropriated.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:24
  • This is an interesting digression, but since joyriders are frequently under the influence of drink or drugs, I don't think we can really say they have any intention other than having a good time. If I abandon a vehicle (because I have trashed it or used up all the fuel) does that mean I have an intention to return it? That sounds a pretty thin defence, I don't think it would impress a jury.
    – jrrk
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 7:43
  • @user65877 If they have no intention one way or another, then it's not theft. To convict someone of theft one must prove beyond reasonable doubt that they had an intention to permanently deprive the owner of the thing they stole. It takes that positive intention to be theft, not just indifference, negligence or recklessness.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 13:39
  • You may want to qualify your first sentence's first clause with "in the UK", since the distinction relies on an oddity of UK law. This would not be a meaningful distinction in, say, Canada, especially not regarding which word to use to describe the driving. Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 15:40

Driving spiritedly/driving in a spirited fashion are in fairly common usage. The connotation is that one is driving quite quickly, taking corners fairly aggressively, etc., but not necessarily dangerously or even illegally.

If you're driving the car really aggressively, and having perhaps more fun than you legally can with it, drive it like you stole it is an idiom you may want to consider. There is no implication that you actually stole the car, but the idiom conveys the meaning that you're driving it as if it were a car you stole. If you literally stole a car, you didn't pay for it, so you wouldn't be too concerned about wrecking it or fleeing the site of an accident. And perhaps you're also driving fast to evade pursuing police. These are the ideas that would come to mind when someone uses this idiom.

The word hoon (meaning drive like a hooligan, basically) has already been mentioned by another answer - while it's fairly common in Australia and New Zealand, you may have difficulty being understood in other places.

If you just want to talk about driving in a relaxed yet enjoyable fashion, then use the verb cruise, already explained in another answer.

A noun to describe a person who habitually likes to speed (beyond legal limits) is speed demon. It is generally a pejorative term.

  • "Like you stole it" is a bit of an odd term here, since you're more likely to get away with stealing something if you subsequently behave in a way that will not draw attention to yourself, particularly from the police. ;-) Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:18

One could race around. One could tear up town or countryside. One could go for a whirl.

If you're really looking for a way to describe that (arguably) harmless thing that one wants, but knows to be forbidden, try some form of indulgence.


This is simply "going for a drive", or "taking a drive". In the early days of the automobile, driving with no destination for leisure was common — and promoted as a way of selling cars. Taking the family out for a "Sunday drive" was a popular pastime. Now, with the novelty worn off (and, perhaps, with more sophisticated entertainment options in general), that's not really something most people do — but you can still go for a drive.

google ngram


A joyride is, as you said, a fast and dangerous ride, especially (but not necessarily) in a stolen car. As such, joyride itself does fit your request. A joyride does not necessarily imply theft, though it does have that connotation.

A boy racer is a young man who drives fast on public roads, endangering himself and other drivers (and pedestrians). There is no connotation of theft: boy racers are generally driving their own cars, which are probably cheap but souped up to look impressive. Therefore, boy racing may be an appropriate term for your use case.

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    The best answer by a country mile. And yet until I upvoted it, it was languishing on zero, while the top-rated (and incorrect answer, as pointed out by your comment on it) was on +61. I've read that on SO the best answers rise to the top... examples like this show how that can be utterly untrue.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 12:24

The term you are looking for is "Hooning". Typically done by "Hoonigans".

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    Criggie has already suggested "go for a hoon (in a car)" as a relevant New Zealand phrase. Is your suggestion substantially the same, especially with regard to the wording's being specific to New Zealand? If not, you might elaborate on how "hooning" differs from "going for a hoon."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 6:52

Autobubbling. This term fell out of favor, but was popular when the automobile was originally introduced.

"Come away with me, Lucille In my merry Oldsmobile, Over the road of life we'll fly Autobubbling you and I"

-"In my Merry Oldsmobile" Gus Edwards, 1905


Going for a spin. Although, it's probably considered a bit of an old fashioned term these days.

  • Since the author already considered this option ('"Take it out for a spin" is the best I could come up with'), you might want to clarify that you believe this is indeed the best alternative available. :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:42

"test-drive" Merriam Webster defines test-drive as: "to drive (a motor vehicle) in order to evaluate performance." (And yes, MW includes the hyphen.)

If you say: "May I test-drive your Ferrari" or "May I take your Ferrari out for a test-drive", the owner is going to say "No!" But if, incredibly, he says "Yes", then you have carte-blanche to do almost anything, because you have to "evaluate its performance."

If it is your car, of course you have to test-drive it repeatedly to catch any minor flaws in its performance before they become major problems.


I like the phrase tooling around: to drive a car with no particular goal and just for the pleasure of it.



(with, or without the/your "homies")

enter image description here


How about "take a scenic route", or "a bare-knuckle ride"

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    Can you elaborate on how these fit the needs of the questioner? To me, neither seems very appropriate.
    – Hellion
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 19:43

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