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Geocaching Acronyms and Terms

by Carolyn K. director, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page

Find your definitions here, or check the official Geocaching Glossary.

Ammo Can Ammunition can, a common medium-sized traditional cache container. repurposed from it's original use as a storage container for ammunition.
ALR Additional Logging Requirements. No longer allowed in Geocaching, except in the form of Challenge Caches, Virtual Caches, and WhereIGo Caches
Archived A geocache that is no longer available, or an event that is completed is Archived on the Geocaching.com website.  Such caches are still available to view via their direct link, but do not appear in "Find a geocache" lists
ATCF As The Crow Flies.  Distance measured without respect to roads or obstacles
Attributes Attribute icons that apply to a cache, including permissions, hazards, conditions, facilities in the vicinity, and special equipment required.  Please respect the Attributes of a Geocache.  For example, if the cache says it is not available at night, please do not go searching for it after the sun goes down.  You may jeopardize the cache location, or cause geocaching allies and landowners to lose respect for geocachers.  Thank you
Bison Tube A common small cache container of assorted sizes and colors, often found hanging in a tree or stuffed in an open space in a wall, or installed into larger forms of camouflage
Blinkie Another word for a Nano cache container...
BOT / BOMTT Base of Tree / Base of Multi-Trunked Tree
BYOP Bring Your Own Pen(cil).  This is always a good idea, even if the cache description doesn't mention it.  Geocachers may also carry a personal "stamp," an inexpensive accessory available from a variety of sources including VistaPrint
c:geo Free android app for geocaching, works seamlessly with GPS Status app, also free. See Geocaching 101: Finding Your First Cache for more on getting started geocaching with your smartphone
Cache and Dash, a cache placed in a location that allows a quick grab. Also known as Park-and-Grab (P&G or PNG). Commonly found in lamp post skirts (LPC) or guardrails, these caches are considered passť as traditional caches.  They are more respectable as the final solution to a Puzzle (Mystery) cache
Cachly An iPhone app to facilitate geocaching with your iPhone. Considered the gold standard for iPhone geocaching. See Geocaching 101: Finding Your First Cache for more on getting started geocaching with your smartphone
Calendar Challenge Find at least one geocache on each of the 366 calendar days in the year (February 29th included)
Camo Camouflage, creating a cache container that looks like something else.  Camo may include paint or duct tape on a cache container to make it blend in with its surroundings better, or more elaborate camo such as decoupage built up on a peanut butter jar to look like a broken off stick. Some cache containers are their own camo, such as a container in the shape of a bolt, faceplate, or rock.  Creativity reigns!
Century Challenge Find at 100 caches in a single day!
Challenge Cache A challenge geocache requires that geocachers meet a geocaching-related qualification or series of tasks before the challenge cache can be logged. Challenge caches are of type Mystery Cache.

Some common challenge caches include the Century Challenge, the Fizzy Challenge, and the Jasmer Challenge, but there are lots of unique challenges that a cache might require.  Read more on what is and is not "legal" for a challenge cache to require at Groundspeak's page on Challenge Geocaches.

CITO Cache in, Trash Out, the theme of caches in particularly yucky locations, and the motto of geocachers everywhere
CITO Event
CITO themed events, shown graphically as the official CITO symbol. These events are intended to clean up an area. Attendees should arrive prepared for clean up, usually wearing long pants and bringing gloves, trash bags, prepared to work.
CO Cache Owner, the person who placed and maintains a cache, or has more recently "adopted" the cache from the original cache owner.
D/T Difficulty / Terrain ratings for a cache, rated on a scale of 1-5.  For Terrain, a 1 means handicapped accessible, and a 5 means specialized equipment required. For Difficulty, a higher number may mean that the cache is more difficulty to find, perhaps due to camouflage, or to reach and open (up a tree or a lightpole, for example). Use the official Geocaching Rating System to determine the D/T for a new cache.
Disabled A geocache that is currently unavailable to find, but should become available again, on the Geocaching.com website.  Disabled caches still appear in "Find a geocache" lists, but are "grayed out" and/or appear with a horizontal line through them (strike out)
DNF Did Not Find. It happens to all of us sometimes.  There's even a Facebook group celebrating our DNFs, visit I Suck At Geocaching
Earth Cache
A virtual cache exploring a unique geographic or geologic feature, shown graphically as a cut-away earth icon. Cachers "prove" a visit to an earth cache by learning something about the geology of the area, and answering questions or providing a photograph on the unique geology
Event Cache
Mega Event
Giga Event
A gathering of geocachers at a specific location, date and time, shown graphically as a "thought bubble" icon.  Meet-and-greet events are a great way to meet other geocachers in your area, trade trackables, share information on caches, and learn more about geocaching!  Be sure to "log" your reservation as a "Will Attend" log. Events that regularly gather more than 500 attendees are called Mega Events. Events that have grown to over 5000 attendees are called Giga Events!. See Geocaching Events for more...
Extagz No longer in business, but still floating around. A collectible token, about the size of a quarter, often a personal item representing a geocacher or event. Extagz are more often shaped outlines, rather than round like Pathtags. Purchase Extagz and/or track your collection on Extagz.com.  Extagz have the URL for Extagz.com on the back; if the item has a trackable number and is not a Extagz or Pathtag, it is a Geocoin; please treat it with respect and move it on to another cache. See also Pathtag
Fizzy Challenge Also known as the "Well-Rounded Cacher Challenge," the Fizzy challenge is to find at least one cache of every difficulty/terrain combination (81 unique combinations). 

Fizzy Challenge caches may (or may not) also require you to find at least one each of different types of caches, for example, you might be required to find one each of EarthCache, Event Cache, Letterbox Hybrid, CITO Event, Multi Cache, Traditional Cache, Unknown Cache, Virtual Cache, and Webcam Cache.  Or you might be required to find at least 10 of the 14 different possible cache type icons (those listed above plus Mega Event, WhereIGo Cache, Project APE Cache, Locationless, and GPS Adventure).

Be sure to meet all the requirements before logging a Fizzy Challenge cache!
FTF (or STF) First to Find a newly placed cache (or Second to Find), an honor among cachers
GC Code Geocaching code, or GC number.  The unique identification number of a cache, starting with GC, for the Geocaching.com website.
GC.com Shorthand for Geocaching.com, the most common Geocaching website.
GeoBeagle Droid app to facilitate geocaching with your Droid phone
Geocoin Small coin with unique trackable number engraved, left in a cache with a goal to travel somewhere else. Geocoins are tracked on Geocaching.com
Geopile An unnatural pile of sticks, stones or other natural debris, found to be hiding a Geocache.  Geopile may also appear in the crotch of a tree or other above ground location, with similar results.  See also UPR
Geotrail Geocaching trail, a series of caches designed to explore a region, natural phenomena, or other area of interest. Not to be confused with a Power Trail.
GPS or GPSr Global Positioning Satellite receiver. These generally come in hand-held and automobile varieties; some automobile GPS units also work outside the car for Geocaching
Groundspeak Groundspeak is the parent of Geocaching.com, Waymarking.com and WhereIGo.com
GSAK Geocaching Swiss Army Knife Recommended, the "all in one Geocaching and waypoint management tool."  A PC program to manipulate Geocaching.com PQs, download data to your GPS, log multiple caches simultaneously, generate statistics to confirm geocaching challenges, and lots more!
GZ Ground Zero, the GPS specified location of a cache
HIPS Hidden In Plain Sight
iGCT An iPhone app to facilitate geocaching with your iPhone. See Geocaching 101: Finding Your First Cache for more on getting started geocaching with your smartphone
Jasmer Challenge The Jasmer Challenge requires you to find at least one cache placed every month since Geocaching was invented, in May 2000. This is difficult, as some geographic areas are missing some of the earliest caching months; the full Jasmer challenge may require you to travel significantly from your home location.

Therefore, many cachers have created "mini Jasmer challenges" which require you to only find one cache placed during each month of a specific year, i.e. you must find a cache placed during each month of the year 2002.

Lab Cache Lab Caches are an experimental cache type. Unlike other caches, Lab Caches are not required to have a container and can also be located indoors. Lab Caches currently occur as temporary caches during Mega Events.
Lat/Long Latitude and longitude, the hiding spot of a geocache
LEO Law Enforcement Officer
Letterbox Hybrid Cache
A traditional cache that is also a Letterbox, shown graphically as an envelope icon.  Letterboxing is different than Geocaching, using clues instead of GPS coordinates to find the hidden item. Letterboxers carry a personal stamp, stamp pad, and notebook.  Inside each letterbox is another stamp, and the letterboxer stamps his/her book with the stamp in the letterbox, and stamps the notebook in the letterbox with his/her stamp.  Please do not remove the stamp from a letterbox; it is not Swag
Lock&Lock Plastic container featuring 4 locking flaps. This particular brand makes an excellent geocaching container, as it comes in a wide variety of sizes and withstands the summer and winter temperatures around the world, unlike other more well-known food storage containers
Log (n) the paper strip or notebook inside a cache where you sign your geocaching name and the date you visited the cache,
(v) to record your visit on the Geocaching.com website, as having found a cache, DNF, planning to attend or attending an Event Cache.
LPC Lamp Post Cache, a cache hidden in or on a lamp post.  These caches are often under the skirt of a lamp post (yes, that thing around the base of the pole lifts up), but can alternatively be hidden in something magnetically attached to the pole.
McToys SWAG previously found in McHappy Meals
MFTC Mahalo for the Cache... for Hawaiian geocachers!
Micro Very small traditional cache container, ranging from MKH or film canister size to nano-size
MIST / NIST Micro / Nano In Spruce Tree. My least favorite cache type. Bring gloves
MKH Magnetic Key Holder, a very common micro-sized cache container
Muggle (n) Non-Geocaching person (ala Harry Potter)
(v) To raid the contents, damage or remove a geocache
A traditional cache with multiple finds required. Each stage of a multi-cache may be a physical container or a virtual spot that gives you the information you need to find the next stage. leading to the final physical cache, shown graphically as a perpendicular pair of yellow box icons. Multi-caches may be as few as two stages, or as many stages as the Cache Owner likes.
Munzee Another geo-location game, played by scanning QR codes with your Smartphone, also located by GPS coordinates. Played at Munzee.com or by Smartphone app.
My Finds Pocket Query (PQ) Specialized Pocket Query (PQ) to report the geocaches you've found; used for generating statistics via the GSAK program, or the statistics websites My Geocaching Profile or Project-GC (requires premium membership to Geocaching.com)
My Geocaching Profile Website-based statistics generator for Geocaching. Visit MyGeocachingProfile.com (requires premium membership to Geocaching.com to create MyFinds Pocket Query)
Mystery Cache (Puzzle Cache)
A traditional cache that requires a puzzle to be solved to learn the final coordinates, shown graphically as a question mark icon. The puzzle may be something you can solve in advance of your visit, or something you need to solve at the cache location; these are known as "site puzzles." Visit Geocaching 103: Puzzle Caches for lots more...
Night Cache Geocaches designed to be found only at night.  These may be difficult or impossible to find during the day.  Many use reflective tacks (often called FireTacks) to allow cachers to follow a trail using a flashlight to locate the reflective tacks.  Others may require the use of a U.V. flashlight to find locators or clues that are otherwise invisible.
Nano Extremely tiny traditional cache container, magnetic, often found on the underside of a park bench. See Nano from Groundspeak
Offset An offset cache requires the cacher to calculate or estimate a direction and distance from the final cache location, to find the physical cache container
One Busy Day Challenge One Busy Day challenge caches require you to find a number of types of caches in a single day.  For example, you might be asked to find at least 6 (or 8, or for a VERY Busy Day, at least 10) of the 14 different possible cache type icons (EarthCache, Event Cache, Letterbox Hybrid, CITO Event, Multi Cache, Traditional Cache, Unknown Cache, Virtual Cache (retired type), Webcam Cache (retired), Mega Event, WhereIGo Cache, Project APE Cache (retired), Locationless (retired), and GPS Adventure). Not sure how the new Giga Event type cache will play into a Busy Day...
OpenCaching An alternative Geocaching website, OpenCaching.com
A cache placed in a location that allows a quick grab. Also known as Cache and Dash (C&D). Commonly found in lamp post skirts (LPC) or guardrails, these caches are considered passť as traditional caches.  They are more respectable as the final solution to a Puzzle (Mystery) cache
PAF Phone A Friend.  Just what it says... 
Pathtag A collectible token, about the size of a quarter, often a personal item representing a geocacher or event. Purchase pathtags and/or track your collection on Pathtags.com.  Pathtags have the URL for Pathtags.com on the back; if the item has a trackable number and is not a Pathtag or Extagz, it is a Geocoin; please treat it with respect and move it on to another cache. See also Extagz
PI Poison Ivy, the nemesis of many geocachers. Poisonous plants are often noted in the Attributes section of a cache description
Pocket Query (PQ) Premium Membership feature. Pocket Query is a custom geocache report that can be uploaded to your GPS device or manipulated in GSAK software on your computer.
Power Trail A series of caches placed ~0.1 miles apart, usually at the same level of difficulty and in the same type of caching containers.  Currently the largest Power Trail is the 2000+ cache E.T. Highway trail and the adjacent night hike, Alien Night Hike, both located in Nevada
Preform plastic test-tube shaped container with screw-on lid. These come in several sizes, which would have become 2-liter bottles (large and thick preforms) or water bottles (smaller, thinner preforms), among other plastic bottles
Project Geocaching Website-based statistics generator for Geocaching. Visit Project-GC.com (requires premium membership to Geocaching.com)
Puzzle Cache See Mystery Cache...
QR Code A type of bar code used in the geo-location game Munzee
Reviewer Local volunteer who approves geocaches in your area. Reviewers are the backbone of Geocaching
ROOT Ran Out Of Time or Right Off Of Trail
ROT13 Rotate 13 Cipher. A common cipher used in puzzle caches.  Also the "code" used for Hints in the cache description. See Geocaching 103: Puzzle Caches ...
Signal Signal the Frog, the official mascot of Groundspeak and Geocaching
SL Signed Log, sometimes included as TNLNSL (Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log)
Spoiler A log entry, hint, or photo that "spoils" the cache for others.  Some COs delete logs and/or photos that contain spoilers
STF Second To Find
Swag Non-trackable trade items found and/or placed in a geocache. Some caches have specific swag themes. Fast food toys are often included as swag to entertain younger geocachers. Take care not to mistake Travel Bugs or Geocoins for Swag
TB See Travel Bug
TB Hotel A medium or large traditional cache set up as an exchange point for Geocoins and Travel Bugs
TerraCaching An alternative Geocaching website, TerraCaching.com
TFTC (or TFTH) Thanks for the Cache (or Thanks For The Hide)
TNLN Took Nothing, Left Nothing. Also TNLNSL - Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log
TOT or TOTT Tools Of (the) Trade. This could mean a screwdriver, tweezers to remove the log from the cache, or something simpler or more complex.  Check the description or hints for more guidance, or bring along your Swiss Army Knife...
Trackable Any trackable item that is moved from cache to cache and recorded on Geocaching.com, usually a Geocoin or Travel Bug
Traditional Cache
A physical cache containing at least a log, shown graphically as a green box icon.  Traditional caches may be as small as a nano, a magnetic container about the size of your fingertip, or as large as... as large as the Cache Owner wants it to be.  We've found Traditional Caches in construction job boxes and in empty drums.  There's even a cache out there somewhere in the U.S. that's a Micro in the Woods... that's a Microwave oven in the woods!
Travel Bug Small metal tag, often dog-tag or animal shaped, including a unique trackable number. The travel bug is sometimes attached to another object, called the traveler. Travel bugs are tracked on Geocaching.com
Traveling cache An obsolete cache type, though there are still a few Traveling caches floating around the U.S. A Traveling cache moves, and each new location is posted via the cacher who moves it.  The CO then updates the cache location, until the next time it moves.  Groundspeak has set out rules for the use of Traveling caches; they are included in the description of each Traveling geocache
UPR Unnatural Pile of Rocks, a common way to find a cache container hidden in the woods
UPS Unnatural Pile of Sticks, another common way to find a cache container hidden in the woods
Virtual Cache
A physical location with no physical cache, shown graphically as a ghost icon. Cachers "prove" a visit to a virtual cache by taking a photo, answering a question, or otherwise demonstrating you were at the right spot
Watchlist A list of caches or geocoins/travel bugs that you follow on Geocaching.com
Waypoint Any additional lat/long associated with a geocache. Each geocache is a waypoints; additional waypoints may be provided for Parking, Trailhead, or other significant points related to a cache
Webcam Cache
A cache at the site of a webcam, shown graphically as a webcam. You must get "caught" by the webcam, and capture the cam picture as proof of visit.  Not as simple as it sounds! Often found at Universities and other locations featuring webcams feeding live to websites.
WhereIGo Cache
A WhereIGo cartridge is a set of locations or interactions that you must accomplish in sequence to get to the final location, in order to log the cache; shown graphically as a blue circle with a white arrow.  For more on WhereIGo caches, visit WhereIGo.com

Updated December 01, 2020

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