The Lexicon of Geocaching
Compiled by Prime Suspect
1/1 – Cache difficulty/terrain rating shorthand. The difficulty number is always presented first, followed by the terrain rating. Each number can range from 1 to 5 in 0.5 increments. A 1/1 cache is the easiest to find and get to. A terrain rating of 1 indicates that it's handicapped accessible, while a terrain rating of 5 indicates extreme terrain, or that specialized equipment (climbing gear, boat, scuba gear, etc.) is required.
ACIDKA – See “YACIDKA”.
Additional Logging Requirement – A condition, beyond merely finding the cache, that must be met in order to be allowed to log a cache as a find. The owner reserves the right to delete logs that do not follow the requirements. While cache owners are allowed to set logging requirements, the more outlandish requirements are not looked well upon by the caching community. The requirements may be listed on the cache page, or in the cache container. A Breeder Cache is one example of a logging requirement.
ALR – See “Additional Logging Requirement”.
APE Cache – See “Project A.P.E.”.
APIDKA – See “YAPIDKA”.
Approver – See “Reviewer”.
ATCF – “As The Crow Flies”. Point to point mileage, irrespective of roads or barriers. Note that it's not a true point-to-point distance, as the distance calculated by a GPS is actually measured following a mathematical model of the curvature of the earth.
Beach Tube – Lightweight, plastic water-tight cylindrical container, typically used to hold car keys and money while swimming, boating, or surfing. Usually has an attached cord to hang it around your neck. Can be used for micro-caches.
Bee Dance – See Drunken Bee Dance.
Bison Tube – Small, metal, water-tight cylindrical container that can be used for micro-caches. Small enough to fit on a keychain, and normally used to hold pills. The name is derived from the company which manufactures most of these types of tubes, Bison Design.
Blinky – Often used as another word for Nano. In reality, a “blinky” is a small light, using a button battery and micro LEDs. The are intended to be attached to clothing, or even as earrings. They come with a powerful base magnet, and a similar removable magnet, to allow it to be attached to clothing without the need of puncturing the fabric. The electronics and battery can be removed in order to create a Nano cache with a magnetic base.
Bookcrossing – A bookcrossing cache is one designed for the exchange of books. Like Where's George dollars, a bookcrossing book is registered on-line (at www.bookcrossing.com), and the owner receives email notification when someone retrieves the book and logs it on-line.
Bookmark – A Premium Member feature that allows you to store links to caches in owner-defined Bookmark Lists. Each bookmark can be given a title (or default to the cache title), and a note can be attached.
Bookmark List – A collection of Bookmarks. Each Bookmark List has its own owner-defined title and descriptive text. An automatic e-mail function can be set for each list. When active, an e-mail will be sent to the list's owner whenever a log is posted to a cache on the list. This is similar to the Watchlist, but doesn't alter the listing of the number of people watching a cache. Bookmark Lists can also be either Private (the default), or Public. If set to Public, anyone you share the URL link to the list page will be able to view it, and, if they're a Premium Member, also rate the list. If left Private, only the owner can view the list.
Breeder Cache – A cache that has an Additional Logging Requirement placed on it by the owner, that requires the cache-finder to place a new cache of their own, in order to log a find on the original cache. In some cases, a breeder cache may contain smaller cache containers inside, for the finders to use. Some look at breeder caches as a way to promote the placement of new caches in sparse areas. Others see them as encouraging the placement of poorly conceived “junk” caches, just to satisfy the logging requirement. Sometimes known as a “Seed Cache”.
Bug – See “Travel Bug”.
BYOP – “Bring Your Own Pen”.
Cache Machine – When a number of cachers form a group for the purpose of finding a large number of caches in a relatively short period of time. These are usually fairly easy traditional caches that can be found quickly. Like a Power Trail, it's another way for people to easily increase their Find count. As such, it is looked down upon by some.
Cacher – One who participates in geocaching.
Charter Member – See “Member”.
CITO – “Cache In, Trash Out”. The act of removing and disposing of trash you may find while searching for a cache. CITO is also a special type of Event Cache, where cachers get together to clean up a park or public space.
Codeword Cache – A codeword cache does not have log book, but instead, you are required to email back to the owner a code or password placed at the site. These were allowed for a very brief period of time, but they soon gave rise to a number of worthless, uninteresting caches. Since they're really nothing but Virtual caches, minus any interesting subject matter, they were quickly banned from geocache.com. This type of cache is sometimes known as a “Password Cache”.
Constellation – The configuration of GPS satellites overhead at any specific time. Some constellation configurations are better than others for calculating your position.
Creed, The – See “Geocachers' Creed”.
Decon Kit – U.S. military decontamination kit box, approximately 2.5” x 3.5” x 1.5”. Sold by military surplus stores. Often used as a mini-cache container. Durable and waterproof under normal use. Warning labels need to be removed (painted over or sanded off) prior to use.
digitalfish – A type of Signature Item. Each digitalfish has a unique identifier that allows it to be tracked on-line.
Dipping – The act of logging a Travel Bug or GeoCoin into a cache, and immediately logging it back into ones possession. Someone might “dip” a Travel Bug or GeoCoin in order to register miles traveled before physically handing off the cache to someone else. Some people use a “personal traveler” to track their miles between caches, and will “dip” the traveler into each cache they find.
DNF – “Did Not Find”.
DPM – Including the letters “DPM” in a cache log was a once-secret way to indicate the cache was of low quality. DPM is an abbreviation for “des palourdes mortes", which is French for “the dead clams”. The entire French phrase is “Les longs sanglots des palourdes mortes blessent mon coeur avec un languor monotone pendant qu'ils dansent à minuit", which translates to “The long sobs of the dead clams wound my heart with a monotonous languor as they dance at midnight”. The idea was to include this phrase in a cache log to clue in others that the cache was of low quality. Rarely actually used, as the meaning of DPM quickly spread throughout the geocaching community, and its secrecy was lost.
Drunken Bee Dance – The movements of a geocacher, trying to pinpoint Ground Zero, chasing the directional arrow first one direction and then another, has been termed the Drunken Bee Dance.
Film Can – 35mm film container, the archetypal container for micro-caches.
Force, The – See “The Force”.
Frisbee Rule – A guideline first proposed by geocacher Criminal in a May 7, 2003 forum message. It basically states that it should not be necessary to ask permission to place a geocache anywhere that you would not be required to ask permission to play Frisbee. It should be noted that this is not geocaching.com's official position.
FTF – “First To Find”. The first person to locate a cache after it has been placed.
GCxxxx – The GCxxxx waypoint identifier is just that, an identifier. It has little other significance, beyond acting as a unique common identifier. Some GPSr units can only accept waypoints of six characters or less, so the generated ID has a maximum length of six. The GCxxxx ID is actually derived from the sequential ID number assigned to each cache page when it's submitted for publishing. The first 2 characters are always “GC”. Originally, the next four characters were created by simply converting the ID number to base-16. But it became apparent that that scheme couldn't create enough IDs for the fast growing sport. In April of 2003, a new scheme was put into place. All cache IDs after CGFFFF would be created using a base-31 scheme. The characters used for the base-31 conversion are 0123456789ABCDEFGHJKMNPQRTVWXYZ (the letters ILOSU are omitted). When converting from a base-31 waypoint ID back to its original sequential ID, you have to subtract 411120, to account for the value change between GCFFFF under the old system, and GCG000 under the new system. Update: When the end of the 6 character identifiers (GCZZZZ) was approaching, it was decided to scrap the 6 character limit. At that point, many of the newer models of GPSrs could handle longer waypoint names, and off-site software existed to allow users to customize their waypoints to accommodate their particular GPS unit.
Geocachers' Creed – A voluntary set of guiding principles that describes how geocachers should, in general, act. It was developed by 60 cachers in open forums to orient new players to the ethos of the caching community and to guide experienced players in questionable situations. You can find the Geocachers' Creed at www.geocreed.info.
GeoCoin – Coin-size tokens especially made for individual cachers or caching groups. Some may be very elaborate metal coins with tracking numbers stamped on them and encased in plastic. On the other end of the scale are home-made coins made from a wooden disk, and hand-marked with an ink stamp. Some coins use the same tracking system as Travel Bugs. The same general rules that apply to Travel Bugs apply to these GeoCoins.
GeoMuggle – See “Muggle”.
GeoMuggled – See “Muggled”.
GeoStripes – Refers to the arm and/or leg scratches received while geocaching.
George – See “WG$”.
GJTB – “Green Jeep Travel Bugs”. See YJTB. The third (2006) “Jeep” contest used green Jeeps.
Gladware – A generically used term for cheap, disposable plastic food containers. Compared to reusable containers, they make poor cache boxes, as they don't seal as well, and don't stand up as well to the environment.
GPSr – A GPS receiver. The “r” refers to “receiver”, to differentiate the unit from the entire GPS system. The GPS system is comprised of three parts: The Space Segment, which is comprised of the orbiting satellites (SVs); the Control Segment, which are the groundbased monitoring facilities; and the User Segment, the actual receivers.
GPX – A cache database file format. Files in the GPX format are available only to Premium Members. This format contains virtually all the information available on a cache page, plus the last 5 logs made to the cache, as well as any logs the person requesting the file may have made to the cache. GPX files can be requested from a cache page, or via Pocket Queries. See also “LOC”.
Ground Zero – The point where the coordinates displayed on your GPS exactly match the coordinates given for a cache. Sometimes abbreviated as “GZ”.
Guidelines – The rules for cache placement. They can be found here.
GZ – See “Ground Zero”.
Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk – A method of group caching, which takes its name from a classic children's game. When a member of the group spots the cache, they walk elsewhere (to not give away the cache's location), then call out, “huckle-buckle-beanstalk!” (or whatever word or phrase the group has decided on). This continues until everyone in the group has either spotted the cache, or given up, after which the cache is retrieved and logged. Compare this to the Three Musketeers method.
Hula Wave – Some GPS receivers (mostly Magellan units) automatically engage a location averaging function when it detects that the unit is moving slower than a certain speed. To avoid this, the “hula wave” is used. This involves holding the unit to your extreme right, then quickly moving it to your extreme left (or vice-versa). The unit will detect this as movement greater than the prescribed speed limit for averaging, and will temporarily turn averaging off.
IBTL – “In Before The Lockdown”. Forum usage only. Indicates that the poster thinks the forum thread will soon be forced closed. Not exclusive to geocaching.
LEO – “Law Enforcement Officer”.
LN – “Left Nothing”.
LOC – A cache database file format. The LOC format is available to all members. Only the most basic cache information is included in a LOC file. LOC files can be requested from a cache page, a Pocket Query (for Premium Members), or from a search list. See also “GPX”.
Lock & Lock – A food-storage system that features a recessed soft rubber gasket in the lid, and a hinged latching mechanism on each edge of the lid, which snaps into the container's sides. A excellent choice for a geocache container, it comes in a variety of sizes, can be opened and closed easier than an ammo box, and remains waterproof over time. Its downside is that its plastic surface can be difficult to paint, if it requires camouflage. The name “Lock & Lock” is often applied to similar locking storage products, such as Snapware.
Logging Requirement – See “Additional Logging Requirement”.
LPC – “Lamp Post Cache”. A very common hiding place for micro caches, this exploits the fact that the shroud (or “skirt”) on lamp posts that cover the anchor bolts are usually not secured, and can be lifted up to provide a hiding place. The term LPC is sometimes intended to be a derogatory reference, since LPC hides are generally all the same and require little skill or imagination.
Maggots – Another term for a cache Pirates.
Markwell – Used in the forums only. To “Markwell” is to respond to a message with a link to another thread where the posted question has already been answered. Named after the geocacher Markwell.
McToys – Originally referred to the toy give-aways that come with a Happy Meal. In general, it now refers to any cheap trinket that may be found in a cache box. The term is usually used in a derogatory manner.
MEFF – “Most Esteemed First Finder”.
Member – Technically, anyone with a geocaching.com account is a member. But the term “Member” usually refers to those with a paid Premium Membership. Premium Members can have more caches on their watchlist, can run Pocket Queries, and have access to caches that have been designated for Premium Members only (see “MOC”). Members who subscribed during the first year that subscriptions were available, are designated Charter Members. Other than the name, there is no difference between a Premium and Charter membership.
Micro-spew – A usually derogatory term for the proliferation of micro caches placed in obvious and uninteresting locales. The classic example of this is the micro hidden under the base skirt of a parking lot light pole.
Mini-Cache – The long-time “missing” cache size. Currently, there is not an official cache size category for cache containers that are larger than a “micro”, but smaller than a “regular”. So the geocaching community invented the mini-cache. Mini-caches have room for a limited number of small trade items, and may be big enough to hold a small pen (see “Shorty Pen”). The classic mini-container is the military Decon Kit. Update: In the fall of 2004, the cache size “small” was finally added to handle the mini-cache size. The term “small” was chosen over “mini”, to give it a unique single-letter abbreviation (avoiding confusion with “micro”).
Mitsuko – Geocaching's most famous Sock Puppet. Created by Choberiba, the Mitsuko persona was that of a young, attractive Asian-American female. Images of the Japanese model Akane Souma were used to complete the deception.
MKH – “Magnetic Key Holder”. The hide-a-key box, usually intended to conceal a car or house key, can be utilized as a ready-made micro container. Since they are usually not water tight, logs need to be within small zip-lock baggies, if the container is going to be out in the elements.
MOC – “Members Only Cache”. A Members Only Cache is one that's reserved for Premium Members (see “Member”). MOC caches are designated with a icon. Only Premium Members can display a MOC cache page, and consequently, only Premium Members can log a MOC.
Muggle – A non-geocacher (taken from the Harry Potter series of books). Also “GeoMuggle”.
Muggled – The discovery of a cache by a non-geocacher. Also “GeoMuggled”. Although non-cachers are encouraged to “play along” should they come across a cache, when someone refers to a cache as having been muggled, it almost always means it was stolen or vandalized.
Nano – An unofficial cache size. A nano cache is usually considerably smaller than the typical micro. One popular container is approximately the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil. They usually have a magnetic base to keep them in place. A nano container is sometimes referred to as a “Blinky”.
NIAH – “Needle In A Haystack”. A small cache placed in an area where there are a great number of possible hiding locations.
OCB - “Original Can of Beans”. One of the items placed in the very first geocache (actually called a “stash” at the time). The can, which was never traded for, was later recovered. It has been made into a Travel Bug, and occasionally makes appearances at various geocaching get-togethers.
P & G – “Park and Grab”. A easy-to-find cache that you can get very close to by car. Sometimes written as “P-n-G” or “PNG”.
PAF – “Phone A Friend”. Usually done in the field, via cellphone. This may take one of two forms. If the cacher is hunting a cache without the cache page information, he or she may call someone who will look up the cache page and relay the description and hint. In other cases, the cacher may phone someone who has already found the cache, in hopes of getting additional information about its location.
Password Cache – See Codeword Cache.
PI – “Poison Ivy”. Used generically to include poison oak, and poison sumac.
Pirates – A short-lived phenomenon where rogue geocachers would steal caches, and then either: a) destroy the cache; b) hold it for ransom; or c) move it to another location, leaving only a note behind with the new location. A number of minor variations were also used. A late attempt was made by some pirates to legitimize the activity, by making it an opt-in, non-destructive activity. But by that time, pirates had generated so much ill-will among mainstream geocachers (which still exists) that they were drummed out of the sport.
Plunder – Similar to “Muggled”, a plundered cache is one that has been stolen or vandalized. However, there is a slight difference in meaning. Saying a cache has been plundered leaves open the possibility that the act was not done by accidental finders. See also “Pirates”.
PNG – See “P & G”.
Pocket Cache – A pocket cache is a cache carried on one's person, usually to geocaching events. Often these are actual caches that the owner has moved from their assigned location. Since geocaching.com no longer supports Traveling Caches, and the removal of active caches can cause confusion for those seeking them in their posted location, Pocket Caches are not condoned. Using a cache in this manner may cause it to be permanently archived and locked.
Pocket Lint – See “Pocket Cache”.
Pocket Query – A cache query engine available only to Premium Members. A wide variety of search and filter parameters are available. The resulting query is emailed to you in either GPX or LOC format, on whatever schedule you set. The term “Pocket Query” is often used to reference the actual file that the query generates.
Podcache – A puzzle or multi-cache which utilizes spoken or aural clues that the cache-finder listens to on-site via a portable MP3 player. The finder downloads the audio file from a link on the cache page, uses the GPSr to navigate to the starting point, then uses the instructions from the audio player to locate the cache. There may be additional puzzles and GPS navigation required along the way.
Power Trail – A path with a large number of easy traditional caches placed every 1/10th of a mile. Like a Cache Machine, it's another way for people to easily increase their Find count. As such, it is looked down upon by some.
PQ – See “Pocket Query”.
Premium Member – See “Member”.
Project A.P.E. – A promotional tie-in with 20th Century Fox, to publicize their remake of the movie Planet of the Apes. A number of caches were set up around the country, stocked with promotional items from the movie. A few of these caches still exist, and now function as Traditional caches. For the curious, A.P.E. stood for Alternative Primate Evolution.
Reviewer – A local volunteer who validates a cache submission prior to the cache being posted. Sometimes referred to as an Approver, but Reviewer is the preferred term. Reviewers do not personally visit a cache site, but confirm that the cache, as presented in the submission, adheres the the posted Cache Placement Guidelines.
Ringbone – A reference to ringbone in a forum post (usually in the form of the question “Why does my post say ringbone”) is a sly reference to the use of a Sock Puppet created to post messages, in order to bolster one's viewpoint. The term goes back to a forum thread in early March 2004. A poster with the name of “ringbone” attempted to create a new account (named “Oronma”, an anagram of “A Moron”), and post a message as if he were a neophyte geocacher. However, he didn't properly log out and back into the system, so the post appeared under his real account. He then posted the now-famous “why does my post say ringbone” message, again mistakenly under his real account. He apparently figured out his error, and posted the same message under the fake account.
ROT13 – A simple encryption scheme where each letter is rotated 13 characters up or down the alphabet. Based on one of the world's oldest encryption schemes, ROT13 came into common use in the 1970s on early BBS's (Bulletin Board Systems), and later on Usenet. In geocaching, cache location hints are encoded using ROT13.
R.O.W. – “Right Of Way”. Often, the area between a street and the sidewalk.
SBA – “Should Be Archived”. Log type indicating that there is a severe problem with a cache (missing, destroyed, inaccessible, or on private property without permission). When a SBA log is made to a cache, a copy of it is automatically sent to the geocaching.com administration, who then route it to a local reviewer. The official log type is Needs Archived but the term Should Be Archived came first, and has stuck.
Seed Cache – See “Breeder Cache”.
Shorty Pen – A ink pen that has been shortened enough to fit in a small cache container. There are companies that sell them ready-made (ShortyPen.com) or you can make your own in any size you want for 15¢ to 20¢ each.
Signal – Signal is the official mascot of geocaching.com. Designed by artist Koko, Signal is a frog with an GPS antenna on his (her?) head.
Signature Item – An object used a trade item in caches, that is meant to be identified with a specific geocacher (or group of geocachers). As such, some people actively collect different Signature Items. Some Signature Items, like some GeoCoins, have unique identifiers that allow them to be tracked. For example, digitalfish can be tracked on-line, like Travel Bugs.
SL – “Signed Log”.
Sock Puppet – A false account used in a forum or chat-room account in order to hide the true owners identity. It is a common Internet term, and is not specific to geocaching.
Spoiler – An on-line log entry (or photo attached to an on-line log) that may give away the location of a cache, or in some other way “spoil” the caching experience for others.
STF – “Second To Find”. The second person to locate a cache after it has been placed.
SV – Space Vehicle. In GPS terms, SV refers to the satellites comprising the Space Segment of the GPS system.
Swag – Not exclusive to geocaching. Contrary to popular thought, “swag” is not an acronym, nor is it a recently invented term. The word has been around for several centuries. It has a number of meanings, but the one utilized in geocaching stems from “swag” as referring to stolen or plundered loot. In more modern times, it's come to mean free promotional items, like you might get at a trade fair or an expo. Because of this, in a bit of creative reverse-etymology, people have come to say that it's an acronym for “Stuff We All Get”, which is clever, but completely wrong. In geocaching, the usage of “swag” would just mean the trade items found in a cache, or things that could be used as trade items.
Tadpole – New forum users are given the avatar title of “Tadpole” until they have posted at least 10 messages, at which time their title changes to “Geocacher”. The tadpole is a reference to the geocaching.com mascot, Signal. Those who are Premium Members have the option of changing their avatar title at any time.
TB – See “Travel Bug”.
TB Jail – See “Travel Bug Prison”.
TB Prison – See “Travel Bug Prison”.
TFTC – “Thanks For The Cache”. Occasionally written as T4TC.
TFTH – “Thanks For The Hunt (or Hide)”. Occasionally written as T4TH.
The Creed – See “Geocachers' Creed”.
The Force – The experience gained from finding caches, which helps one spot locations likely to be concealing a cache. Taken, of course, from the Star Wars movies.
Three Musketeers – A method of group cache hunting, which takes its name from the Musketeer motto, “All for one and one for all.” Unlike the Huckle-Buckle-Beanstalk method, as soon as one person in the group finds the cache, the hunt is over, and all members of the group log their find.
TN – “Took Nothing”.
TNLN – “Took Nothing, Left Nothing”.
TNLNSL – “Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log”.
TNX4GC – “Thanks For The Geocache”. Similar to TFTC.
TOTT – “Tool Of The Trade”. This generally indicates that some type of tool or instrument may be required to retrieve or gain access to a cache. The nature of the tool is usually not specified, but there may be hints within the cache page. It could be an actual tool, such as a screwdriver, or something as simple as a long stick to retrieve a cache from a high perch.
TPTB – “The Powers That Be”. Refers to the upper echelon of the geocaching.com administrative hierarchy.
Travel Bug – An item that travels from cache to cache. The item has unique tracking number (assigned by geocaching.com), which allows you to follow its journey. A Travel Bug is not a trade item, and you are not required to leave anything in the cache when you pick up a Travel Bug, though you are expected to place it in a different cache in a reasonable amount of time. Some Travel Bugs may have a specific goal, such as to reach a certain location. If a Travel Bug has a goal, and you are unable to help it reach that goal, even in a small way, it is customary that you leave it for someone who can assist it in that goal.
Travel Bug Hotel – A geocache with the intended purpose of acting as an exchange point for Travel Bugs. These are almost always Regular or larger sized containers.
Travel Bug Prison – A Travel Bug Hotel which requires that you leave as many Travel Bugs as you take, and/or that you do not take more than a certain number of Travel Bugs. They are called prisons (or jails) because Travel Bugs can get “stuck” in them for an extended period of time, as people who find the cache don't move any of the Bugs on, because they didn't have a Bug to leave. In fact, only the Travel Bug owner, not the cache owner, has the right to apply any kind of movement restrictions on a Travel Bug. Because of this, any movement restrictions placed by the cache owner may be ignored by the cache finder.
Traveling Cache – A cache whose purpose is to change locations with every find. When someone finds a traveling cache, they can place it in a new location, and post that location in their find log. Due to numerous problems with this type of cache (showing up in off-limit areas, disappearing for extended periods of time, failure to log new location, etc.), traveling caches are no longer published on geocaching.com, but there are still a small number of them that were grandfathered in.
UPR – See “UPS”.
UPS – “Unnatural Pile of Sticks”. A common telltale sign of a hidden cache. Sometimes UPR (Unnatural Pile of Rocks) or URP (Unnatural Rock Pile) is used.
URP – See “UPS”.
Watchlist – A list of caches for which you will receive via email a copy of any logs made for those caches. The number of caches you can have on your watchlist is dependent on the type of membership you have.
WG$ – Refers to either a Where's George dollar bill or the Where's George website (wheresgeorge.com).
Why Does My Post Say Ringbone – See “Ringbone”.
WJTB – “White Jeep Travel Bugs”. See YJTB. The second (2005) “Jeep” contest used larger, white Jeeps.
XNSL – “eXchanged Nothing, Signed Log”. Equivalent to TNLNSL.
YACIDKA - “Yet Another Cemetery I Didn't Know About”.
YAPIDKA - “Yet Another Park I Didn't Know About”.
YJTB – “Yellow Jeep Travel Bugs”. A contest held in conjunction with Jeep. The logs and pictures for the Jeep Travel Bugs were judged for creativity and originality in order to win Jeep gear. See also “Travel Bug”.