If you are new to the preparedness or survival mindset, you may come across a lot of terminology and acronyms that you aren’t familiar with yet. Don’t be discouraged.
The terminology is ever expanding and new acronyms pop up all the time. In some cases, there is actually some debate about the meaning of words. The purpose of this article is to list some of those survival and preparedness terms and define them for you.
Events, Strategies, & Lifestyles
Bug In= preparation to dig in at your current residence or other permanent location to “ride out” chaos or a natural disaster.
Bug Out= to leave your permanent home or residence because its determined unsafe due to current events whether natural disaster, political upheaval, rioting, etc.
Carrington Event= an EMP that occurs as a result of natural causes such as a CME.
CME= Coronal Mass Ejection is a wave of eruptions on the surface of the sun that can break free of the solar atmosphere and knock out the electrical grid if the plasma masses reach Earth.
CYA= refers to Cover Your Assets
DLP= stands for Defense of Life and Property
EOTWBFL= a fairly recent term that stands for End of the World Buddy for Life and refers to that person that you will team up with because you know you can count on them to have your back no matter what may come.
Golden Horde=those people who have up until SHTF led a privileged life, with never a need to plan or prepare or think about how they would survive when SHTF. Many preppers believe this “golden horde” will show up on the doorsteps of those who did prepare and demand or steal their preps.
GOOD=Get Out of Dodge is an acronym or term used to refer to a time when your current location has just become too chaotic and dangerous to remain safely. In most cases, GOOD is used when you know you won’t be returning home any time soon if at all.
Grid= the systems that deliver our power but also other important public services such as communications, heat, indoor running water as well as flush toilets.
Grid Down= sometimes referred to as a GDE (Grid Down Event) an event or another set of circumstances that leads to a temporary or even permanent disruption of our electrical and other systems.
Ham Operator=these are individuals who have trained and use amateur radio as a way of maintaining communication with others in their area and around the world when cell phones and other systems are down or overwhelmed.
HEMP= an acronym that stands for High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse and refers to an EMP that occurs high above the Earth.
Living off the grid typically refers to those individuals or families who live without reliance on the public utility and power delivery systems. Many people who choose to live off the grid may install solar power systems, composting toilets, greywater containment, and rainwater collection systems and master many of these homesteading skills in lieu of relying on public utilities.
MAG= stands for Mutual Aid Group and refers to a group of people in a specific location, town, or region who get together to regularly talk about ways that they can plan for emergencies that might occur in their immediate area.
Off Grid= a lifestyle choice that typically means living without public utilities such as electric and other public utilities. Typically, those desiring to live off-grid do so with the intention of being as self-sufficient as possible with little to no reliance on the public utilities or services.
OPSEC= refers to operational security tactics and planning.
Mall Ninja = a derogatory term used to refer to people who place more emphasis on how their equipment and gear looks than on what they can actually do with it or whether they know how to use it.
NINJA= a derogatory label used to refer to those people who have No Income, No Job or Assets
PAW= an acronym that refers to a Post-Apocalyptic World
PollyAnna= another derogatory term used to refer to someone who doesn’t believe that TEOTWAWKI is coming. They remain positive and content and in denial even if presented with evidence of future chaos.
Preppers=individuals who on some level believe in actively preparing to survive, protect, and feed their families during times of trouble and chaos that can follow natural disasters, pandemic outbreaks, man-made turmoil, societal or financial collapse, or astrological catastrophes. It’s also an acronym defined in the Urban dictionary as:
- Prepare for natural or man-made disaster
- Respond without fear.
- Evaluate every possible scenario
- Pack supplies like you won’t have them for a year
- Plan for the Unexpected
- Envision a happy outcome
- Remember to always have hope.
TPTB= an acronym used to refer to those people in power. The group of individuals that control the financial system, political system, and therefore the people.
Rule of Three is a phrase used to help people remember that humans can typically survive 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days with no water, or 3 weeks with no food. In extreme weather conditions, it also includes no more than 3 hours without shelter from the elements.
Sheeple is a label used to refer to individuals that choose to simply conform or follow what is dictated by the government. They are not preparing, they don’t argue with those in power, and it is thought they will be among the first to die when SHTF.
SHTF=Sh** or Stuff Hits the Fan is an acronym that refers to a major event that creates panic and chaos.
SOL= Simply Out of Luck or Sh** Out of Luck is a term that basically means you’ve exhausted any options, there’s nothing you can do, and you just have to face whatever is coming and hope for the best.
Solar Flares=a storm on the surface of the sun. They release intense waves of radiation that could disrupt the power grid and damage satellites. Solar flares typically come after a CME.
Survivalists= individuals who focus on learning and practical application of skills that are needed to live off the land, often in remote, wooded areas with limited or no reliance on others.
TEOTWAWKI=The End of the World as We Know It. This refers to a massive event that doesn’t just disrupt normal life temporarily until things can be cleaned up but it actually destroys enough of our infrastructure that our way of life would be altered forever. So for example, losing our capability to have the internet that everyone is now dependent on. Or worse, no more power, for years or indefinitely rather than just days or weeks.
Two is One, and One is None= a survival strategy that refers to the fact that whatever can go wrong will go wrong and therefore having two ways to start a fire means you will always have at least 1 way even if the other method doesn’t work or is damaged. “One is none” refers to the theory that if you only have 1 method, just matches to start a fire for example, and those get wet, now you have no way to start your fire.
WROL=Without Rule of Law
WTSHTF=another acronym meaning “When the Sh** the Fan”. It refers to that moment when everything erupts into panic and people are desperately trying to figure out how to survive.
YOYO= acronym that stands for Your On Your Own and basically refers to the fact that when SHTF emergency personnel and public services like police, fire, utilities, etc. will be so overloaded that they will all but cease to exist.
Zombies=This a term used to refer to those individuals who failed to plan for the chaos that follows a SHTF event. The belief is that many of these unprepared people will be so focused on getting food so they can survive and feed their families, that they will do just about ANYTHING. It also refers to the fact that as they truly begin to feel the effects of starvation they will be in a weakened, diseased state.
Supplies and Equipment
ALICE=an acronym that stands for All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment
AR-15= a semi-automatic rifle that many civilians own or would like to own for self-defense.
72-hour kit=a bag or another kit that holds all the supplies you might need to sustain you and your family for at least 72-hours. Also known as a bug out bag or BOB.
BIB= Bug In Bag
BOB=Bug Out Bag
BOL=Bug Out Location
BOV=Bug Out Vehicle
FAK=an acronym used to refer to a stand First Aid Kit that is usually included in your BOB and also stored in your home.
Faraday Cage= a container first devised in the mid-1800’s that is generally used as a shield to protect electronic components and devices against damage from an EMP or CME. It primary purpose is to block out static and non-static electrical fields. There are several theories about how to build a faraday cage effectively.
FIFO=an acronym which stands for “First In, First Out” and refers to how stored food is rotated to prevent spoilage and waste.
Fire hydrant wrench=used to open fire hydrants in your community to access water following a natural disaster or SHTF event where public water systems are not functioning.
Generator= a device used to create power, typically backup power to your home or RV. Generators can be powered using several different types of fuel.
Genny= a term that is a nickname or short for generator
GHB= an acronym that stands for Get Home Bag. This is a bag containing items one would utilize to get home safely if they are at another location such as work, school, or the store when SHTF. It typically contains items to sustain and keep you comfortable for less than 24 hours.
GO Bag= a slang term often used to refer to a bag that you keep packed in the event that you have to leave or get out quickly. This term is also used in other professions to mean your overnight bag.
IFAK= an acronym which stands for Individual First Aid Kit and usually refers to the first aid supplies that one carries on their person in quantities that are suitable to treat an individual.
INCH Bag=a phrase used by many that means “I’m Never Coming Home”. It refers to a bag that you pack and store in your home. It includes those things that you would take with you if you knew or believed that you might never be able to return to your house. Similar to a bug out bag but typically includes more sentimental things such as photos, mementos, important paperwork, etc.
Junk Silver= refers to coinage (dimes, quarters, and half-dollars) with a mint date prior to 1964. These are considered of little value but have a silver content of 90%.
MOLLE= this refers to Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment
Multi-Tool= a device designed to be carried in your pocket that includes several different tools all in one. Typically, a screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, a saw blade, etc, similar to a Swiss army style knife.
Paracord refers to a specific type of cordage of the same type used for parachute strings. Known for being extremely durable, it can be used for multiple things including building shelters, snares and other hunting traps, medical emergencies, fire starting, to saw, and of course rappelling and towing.
Preps= a term that refers to the supplies, food, and equipment you have gathered to prepare for what’s coming.
Cooking and Food and Water Storage
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. Survival Sullivan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full disclosure for more.
Alpha strategy=a strategy which refers to accumulating and storing surplus supplies for purposes of using them to barter or to share with neighbors or those in need.
Berkey= this a popular water filtration system made by Berkey. It is gravity fed and removes fluoride and toxic chemicals from fresh water sources such as a lake, pond, or stream.
Buddy Burner= sometimes referred to as a vagabond or hobo stove. A cook stove that can be bought or made yourself from an old coffee can.
Cache= a place to store supplies that usually refers to a container that can be safely buried or hidden outdoors between your current residence and a bug out location so that you can replenish supplies if you use them up or they are stolen or otherwise destroyed while you are traveling.
Dutch Oven= a pot usually made of cast iron that is intended to use to cook over an open fire or hot coals. Typically comes with a lid that doubles as a frying pan perfect for cooking eggs or keeping biscuits or rolls warm.
Food Grade Bucket=a bucket or pail that has not been previously used for chemicals or anything toxic which can be used to store food. Once sealed the buckets must be opened using a specialized opener. Most people include oxygen absorbers to remove any excess moisture.
GMOs=Genetically Modified Organisms are created when a gene from one species either animal or plant is transferred into another to create a final product that is artificial and not found in nature. A very controversial topic indeed!
Gamma Lid=a lid that is airtight and typically used for food grade buckets or containers.
Ghee= this is clarified butter. Because the solids are removed it eliminates “bad cholesterol” and has a long-term shelf life. Better for cooking at high temperatures than regular butter.
Larder is basically a pantry. These were typically built in a shaded portion of the house so it was cooler. A “deep larder” refers to food with a shelf-life of 10-25 years if stored in a larder.
Mason Jars-glass jars and lids used for sealing and storing foods to extend shelf life.
Monsanto– a company that is heavily invested in the manufacture and distribution of GMO seeds and crops. Many believe that GMOs are primarily responsible for the intentional cross-contamination of organic crops.
MRE=stands for Meals Ready to Eat and refers to food items you can pack that require no cooking or preparation but can just be eaten as is and will provide protein and other needed sustenance.
Mylar bags– these are bags used, often in conjunction with oxygen absorbers, for long term airtight food storage to extend the shelf life of food.
Non-GMO seeds or heritage seeds refers to those seeds which have not been genetically modified and therefore can be planted and re-planted and will still produce.
Oxygen Absorbers– these are used to absorb oxygen that may be present in airtight food storage containers or could permeate packaging. These can be used to extend shelf-life of food and pharmaceuticals as well as maintain the fresh flavor of things such as nuts, coffee, spices, and other items that would otherwise go stale when exposed to oxygen.
Paraffin Wax a type of chemical preservative traditionally used for canning. It can delay loss of moisture and extend shelf-life of food. Also known as canning wax or bakers’ wax it is edible, tasteless, odorless, and can be flammable if heated. Sometimes referred by its brand name of Parowax.
Pressure Canner=a pot with a specialized lid that allows for a safer way to “can” fresh food to extend shelf-life and prevent botulism. Temperature and timing are carefully monitored and can vary according to the altitude of your location.
Solar Oven is a device that uses reflective surfaces to trap heat and to cook by harnessing the power of the sun rather than electricity or fire.
Storm Kettle or Kelly Kettle is a style of kettle used to boil things rapidly using natural combustibles such as grass, sticks, bark, or leaves. Made of stainless steel, aluminum, or sometimes tin or copper all metals that conduct heat.
Survival Seeds=these are seeds which have NOT been genetically modified. They may be planted and will reproduce each year without fail, unlike GMO seeds which produce fewer plants each successive year until they eventually bear nothing when replanted.
Volcano Stove= This is the popular brand of cook stove that utilizes three different fuel sources for flexibility when in the wilderness. It’s collapsible for storage purposes.
Zeer Pot is a device that uses thermal mass and evaporation to keep food and other items cold without the use of electricity.
This list just barely scratches the surface of the terminology and language you might encounter when talking with a prepper or reading about the prepping lifestyle.
Hopefully, knowing some of these acronyms and phrases will help you to understand a little bit more of what’s going through the mind of a prepper.
For those of you experienced preppers out there, did I list a term you haven’t heard before? Or did I miss a term that you feel should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t like taking orders. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to a friggin’ war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.