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Geocaching Glossary

The Stealth Required Geocaching Glossary is always being updated, so if we forgot something please contact us.

1/1 – This is the abreviated indicator of a cache’s difficulty level. The first number always represents the amount of thought it may take to find your way to the cache. Although you may have the cache’s coordinates in your GPS, it isn’t always as easy as “X” marks the spot. That’s what makes it fun. This number is followed by the terrain rating, meaning how hard it is physically to get the cache. 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.


APE Cache – See “Project A.P.E.”.


Approver – See “Reviewer”.

Archived Cache – You will usually see this when you own a cache. Archiving a cache is basically deleting it from the listings on the web site. If a cache has been removed and not replaced or is invalid for some reason, it can be archived.

ATCF – “As The Crow Flies”. Point to point mileage, irrespective of roads or barriers. This is not a true point-to-point distance, however, since the distance calculated by a GPS is actually measured following a mathematical model of the curvature of the earth.

Battleshipping – Attempting to determine the whereabouts of a Mystery cache by placing caches of your own in the area. By locating the areas where caches are not allowed, it is believed that the general location of the hidden cache can be determined. This almost never works, as Reviewers will easily notice this behavior, and take steps to foil the attempt.

Bee Dance – See “Drunken Bee Dance”.

Benchmark – These are geodetic control points are permanently affixed objects at various locations all over the United States to enable land surveying, civil engineering and mapping to be done efficiently. These objects are usually metal disks, but can be any other object that serves as a control point. See benchmark hunting for more specific details.

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 on geocaching.com 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.

Breeder Cache – This is a cache that requires the cache finder to place a new cache of their own, in order to log a find on the original cache. Sometimes this cache may contain smaller cache containers inside, for the finders to use.

Bug – See “Travel Bug Hitchhiker”.

BYOP – “Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil” because the cache does not have one.

Caches Along A Route – Premium Member feature on geocaching.com that allows you to create a driving route between two points, and all the caches within a specified distance from that route are returned in the Pocket Query.

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.

Cache – A hidden stash or treasure. In geocaching it is a hidden container filled with a log book and pencil/pen, and possibly prizes or swag. Caches were often used by explorers, miners, etc. to hide foodstuffs and other items for emergency purposes. People still hide caches of supplies today for similar reasons.

Cacher – One who participates in geocaching. AKA “Geocacher”.

Charter Member – On geocaching.com, members who subscribed during the first year that subscriptions were available, are designated Charter Members.

CITO – “Cache In, Trash Out”. The act of removing and disposing of trash you may find while searching for a cache. CITO can also be an event cache, where cachers gather to clean up a park or public space.

CO – “Cache Owner”.

Constellation – The configuration of GPS satellites overhead at any specific time. Some constellation configurations are better than others for calculating your position.

Coordinates – Coordinate are numbers that represent intersecting lines of latitude and longitude – which identify specific points on the earth.

Creed, The – See “Geocachers’ Creed”.

Datum – A datum is used as a basis for calculating and measuring. In the case of GPS, datums are different calculations for determining longitude and latitude for a given location. Always check your GPS to ensure that WGS84 is the datum before entering a cache coordinate into your unit. Lots of maps still use NAD27 and the datum must be converted as geocaching currently uses WGS84.

Decon Geocache Kit – U.S. military decontamination kit box, approximately 2.5” x 3.5” x 1.5”. Sold as military surplus and often used as a small container. Durable and waterproof under normal use. Warning labels need to be removed (painted over or sanded off) prior to use.

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”. When you search for a geocache, but cannot locate it, you can log this in on geocaching.com. If a certain cache has too many of these logs it may mean that the cache has been taken. Cache owners may replace the cache if it is missing. Or, give the cache hunter an extra clue in order to find it.

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, commonly used as a container for micro-caches.

Frisbee Rule – A guideline first proposed by geocacher Criminal in a 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 is an identifier. Some GPSr units can only accept waypoints of six characters or less, so the generated ID has a maximum length of six. It is derived from the sequential ID number assigned to each cache page when it’s submitted for approval. The first 2 characters are always “GC”.

Geocaching – Pronounced “gee-oh-kash”. Geocaching comes from the terms ‘geo’ (earth, geography) and ‘caching’ (hidding a cache). It is a real life, high tech treasure hunt. Previously also called ‘GeoStash,’ ‘The GPS Stash Hunt,’ ‘Global Positioning Stash Hunt,’ ‘GPSH,’ ‘The Great Stash Game,’ ‘Geostash,’ and even ‘Planeteering’ and ‘Geosatplaneteering.’ Geocaching became the game’s official title in May, 2000, when Matt Stum suggested changing the accepted title of “Geostash” with “Geocache.” The rest is history.

Geocachers’ Creed – A voluntary set of guiding principles that describes how geocachers should, in general, act. 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. Others are home-made coins made from a wooden disk and marked with an ink stamp. Once geocoins were thought mostly as ‘calling cards’ to leave in caches that one visited – they could be traded or kept as keepsakes. Now they have also become collector’s items, as some coin editions had very few minted. 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”.

George – See “WG$”.

Geosenses – The experience gained from finding caches, which helps one spot locations likely to be concealing a cache.

GJTB – “Green Jeep Travel Bugs”. See YJTB. The third (2006) “Jeep” contest used green Jeeps.

GPS – stands for Global Positioning System. It is a system of satellites that work with a GPS receiver to determine your location on the planet.

GPSr – Slang for a GPS receiver. It is an electronic device used to receive GPS satellite signals for use in navigation. The “r” refers to “receiver”, to differentiate the unit from the entire GPS system.

GPX – A cache database file format. Files in the GPX format are available only to Premium Members on geocaching.com. 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.

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.

Latitude – Latitude and longitude create a waypoint. Latitude is the angular distance north or south from the earth’s equator measured through 90 degrees.

Letterboxing – Similar to geocaching, its origins go back years before modern geocaching – where one uses a series of clues (instead of coordinates) to find a container. A carved stamp is in each letterbox for use in stamping your personal logbook. You then take your carved stamp and stamp the letterbox’s log book.

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.

Log Book – A small book or scroll of paper located within a cache for the geocacher to record the date, time and experience of their visit.

Log Requirement – This is when a cache owner reserves the right to delete logs that do not follow listed requirements. The requirements may be listed on the cache page, or in the cache container. It may be a password or something about the area surrounding the cache site – required to prove that you visited the cache.

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 premium member only caches.

Micro-Cache – AKA “microcache” A very small cache which usually contains a very small log book or scroll of paper. This type of cache is often more challenging to find than traditional caches and don’t contain trade items.

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 “Premium 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.

NAD27 – Stands for North American Datum 1927. The precursor to WGS84. Many maps still use the NAD27 datum, so always check before using a GPS unit with a map.

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.

Park and Grab – See “P&G”

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 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”.

Preform – A micro container resemble a wide test-tube, made of transparent plastic (usually clear but sometimes tinted), with a screw-on cap. Preforms are actually the “blanks” which are heated and blown into a form to create soda bottles. They are very durable and waterproof, making them a good choice for a micro-size cache container. The main downside to preforms is that they generally have to be purchased in bulk quantities, rather than individually.

Premium Member – Those with a paid Premium Membership on geocaching.com.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.

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.

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.

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”.

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 Hitchhiker”.

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 – See “Geosenses”.

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 Hitchhiker – A set of dog tags that you can attach to an object, activate and then place in a cache. Other cachers log its travels from cache to cache using its unique tracking number (assigned by geocaching.com). You can follow its journey through geocaching.com. 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”.

Virtual Cache – Its name is taken from ‘virual reality.’ This is a cache where the location is the cache itself. There is no container and nothing is normally traded, except photos and experiences. Recently all virtual caches have moved or are being moved from geocaching.com to a new website specifically for these caches. See www.waymarking.com for more details.

WAAS – stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. See Garmin’s Website for a detailed explanation of WAAS.

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.

Waypoint – Waypoints are named coordinates representing points on the surface of the Earth. Geocaching uses a suggested waypoint for a cache. Because most GPS units have restricted names to 6 characters or less, it makes sense that waypoint name based on the ID of the cache is created with each cache.

WG$ – Refers to a ‘Where’s George’ dollar bill or the Where’s George website where you can track the travels of a dollar bill using the serial number.

WGS84 – The most current geodetic datum used for GPS is the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84). The significance of WGS84 comes about because GPS receivers rely on WGS84. Geocaching uses the WGS84 datum by default. The format HDDD MM.MM, which is a standard for GPS receivers (like the eTrex), is also used. It is critical that the format is correct, otherwise cachers will be unable to find your cache! HDD means Hemisphere and degrees. MM.MM are minutes in decimal format.

WJTB – “White Jeep Travel Bugs”. See YJTB. The second (2005) “Jeep” contest used larger, white Jeeps. It’s a white die-cast Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with an official metal tag attached. When you find a white Jeep 4×4 Travel Bug you have the opportunity to sign up for the Jeep 4×4 Geocaching Challenge.

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. Prizes included various Jeep gear and accessories.

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