How to Speak the Language of Preppers and Why You Should Learn It

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Prepper Lingo InfographicIf you’ve ever spent any time in forums reading about prepping, there’s a good chance that you were confused by some of the “lingo” and slang that preppers often use. I have to admit that I’ve had to take a minute to look up certain acronyms that I had never heard before on many occasions.

This article will consist of two parts. The first part will be commonly used prepping acronyms and the second part will be commonly used prepping terms.

I’ve scoured the Internet to find as many as I could so that I could help you make sense of the numerous forum posts that you might come across while surfing the web.

I know that there are other resources on the Internet for learning the prepper lingo but my goal is to add to this list continually so that it becomes the most extensive list available. As I discover new terms or as new phrases or acronyms make their way into the prepping community, I’ll update this article and add them at that time.

You’ll probably notice that many of the acronyms that have been adopted by the prepping community are military terms. While some are actually military terms, others are specific to the preppers. A few that are listed below aren’t actual prepping terms but they are rather, simple acronyms that you might find people using in online forums.

Keep in mind that not all of terms in this list are used by all preppers. The reason, I’ve included so many of them is because you “may” hear some and some you may not hear. The purpose of this article is to be a resource that you can turn to if you happen to come across an acronym or term that you’re unfamiliar with.

Prepping Acronyms

  • ABAO: All bets are off
  • ALICE: All purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment
  • APC: Armored personnel carrier. Also the brand name of a manufacturer of short-term backup power supplies.
  • ARC: American Red Cross
  • ASAP: As soon as possible
  • ATL: Attempt to locate
  • BIB: Bug in bag
  • BOB: Bug out bag or bug out bracelet
  • BOHICA: Bend over, here it comes again
  • BOL: Bug out location
  • BOV: Bug out vehicle
  • BOWB: Bug out web belt
  • BSTS: Better safe than sorry
  • CCW: Carrying concealed weapon
  • CB: Citizens Band Radio
  • CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • CFR: Certified first responder
  • CM: Compressed meals
  • CME: Coronal mass ejection
  • COMSEC: Communications security
  • CQB: Close quarters battle
  • CYA: Cover your assets or cover your a**
  • DFO: Disaster field offices
  • DHS: Department of Homeland Security
  • DLP: Defense of life and property
  • DOD: Department of Defense
  • DOS: Department of State
  • DTA: Don’t trust anyone
  • EARS: Emergency Animal Response Services
  • EAS: Emergency alert system
  • EBS: Emergency broadcast system
  • EDC: Every day carry (meaning the things that a prepper carries with them on a day to day basis)
  • ELE: Extinction level event
  • EMP: Electromagnetic pulse
  • EMS: Emergency management systems
  • EMT: Emergency medical technician
  • EOD: End of days
  • EOT: End of times
  • EOTW: End of the world
  • EOTWBFL: End of the world buddy for life
  • EROL: Excessive rule of law
  • ESP: Extended stay pack
  • FAK: First aid kit
  • FD: Fire department
  • FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • FIFO: First in first out
  • FILO: First in last out
  • FRED: Field ration eating device
  • FRS: Family radio service
  • FUBAR: F’d up beyond all recognition
  • FUD: Fear, uncertainty, and doubt
  • FWIW: For what it’s worth
  • GDE: Grid down event
  • GH: Golden Horde meaning looters and marauders that will venture out of the city into the surrounding rural areas during a major crisis.
  • GHB: Get home bag
  • GMO: Genetically modified organisms
  • GMRS: General mobile radio service
  • GMV: Genetically modified virus
  • GOOD: Get out of dodge
  • GPS: Global positioning system
  • HAM: Home amateur radio
  • HAZMAT: Hazardous material
  • HDPE: High density polyethylene – used to manufacture containers in order to take advantage of its exceptional protective barrier abilities. Most 5 gallon “food grade” buckets are manufactured from a form of HDPE known as HDPE 2. Make sure that any container you store food in is actually labeled “food grade” and not just HDPE 2.
  • HDR: Humanitarian daily rations
  • HEMP: High altitude electromagnetic pulse
  • IFAK: Individual first aid kit
  • IMHO: In my humble opinion
  • IMO: In my opinion
  • INCH: I’m never coming home
  • INCHK: I’m never coming home kit
  • JBT: Jack booted thug – according to, “overly oppressive and authoritarian individual or group, often denotes violent tendencies”.
  • JIC: Just in case
  • JIT: Just in time
  • KISS: Keep it simple stupid
  • LOS: Line of site
  • LP: Listening post
  • LTFS: Long term food storage
  • LTS: Long term shelter
  • MAD: Mutually assured destruction
  • MAG: Mutual aid group – people who meet for the purpose of discussing ideas and planning for emergencies in their area.
  • MOE: Measures of effectiveness
  • MOI: Mechanism of injury
  • MOLLE: Modular lightweight load carrying equipment (pronounced: molly)
  • MRE: Meals ready to eat – prepackaged food and water rations usually issued to military personnel but also often stockpiled by preppers and survivalists.
  • MSM: Mainstream media
  • MZB: Mutant zombie bikers – a general term used to describe thugs and looters.
  • NEMA: National Emergency Management Association
  • NINJA: No income no job or assets
  • NVD: Night vision device
  • NWO: New World Order – according to, “As a conspiracy theory, the term New World Order or NWO refers to the emergence of a totalitarian world government”.
  • OP: Observation post, original post, or original poster
  • OPSEC: Operations security
  • OTG: Off the grid
  • OTGE: Off the Grid Event
  • PALS: Pouch attachment ladder system
  • PD: Police department
  • PERK: Personal emergency relocation kit
  • PFAK: Personal first aid kit
  • POA: Point of aim
  • POI: Point of impact
  • POPO: Slang for the police
  • POTUS: President of the United States
  • PRD: Personal radiation detector
  • PSK: Personal survival kit
  • PTSD: Post traumatic stress disorder
  • RCS: Rainwater collection system
  • ROTFL: Rolling on the floor laughing
  • ROTFLMAO: Rolling on the floor laughing my a** off
  • SAR: Search and rescue
  • SCARE: Social chaos and response emergency
  • SERE: Survival, evasion, resistance, and escape
  • SF: Solar flare
  • SFWF: Shelter, fire, water, and food – listed in the order of importance according to the beliefs of most survivalists.
  • SHTF: S**t hits the fan
  • SIP: Shelter in place
  • SNAFU: Situation normal all f’d up
  • SOL: S**t out of luck or sorry out of luck
  • SOP: Standard operating procedure
  • SWAT: Special weapons and tactics
  • SWF: Short wave radio
  • TEOTWAWKI: The end of the world as we know it
  • TPTB: The powers that be
  • TSHTF: The s*** hits the fan
  • UN: United Nations
  • WROL: Without rule of law
  • WTSHTF: When the s**t hits the fan
  • strong>YOYO: You’re on your own
  • ZA: Zombie apocalypse – Usually used to refer to the chaos that people who haven’t prepared for a major catastrophe or natural disaster will cause.

Prepping Terms and Slang

  • 550 Cord: Paracord
  • 72 Hour Kit: Similar to a bug out bag – basically a kit full of emergency supples often carried in a backpack or some other easily carried container like a suitcase to help one person survive for a period of 72 hours.
  • C-Ration: Combat ration
  • Carrington Event: A natural EMP type of event, caused by a large coronal mass ejection (CME) of the sun.
  • Collapse Event: Any event that results in TEOTWAWKI.
  • Desiccant: A small package containing a hygroscopic substance that is used to draw out and hold moisture from the package that they are included in. Often included in food packaging to retain crispness and may help increase shelf life. People often mistakenly call these little packages “oxygen absorbers”.
  • Doomsday: This is a common term that many preppers use when referring to the day when a major breakdown in civilized society occurs which is brought on by any number of events.
  • Doomsday Prepper: Someone who spends time preparing for a major event that results in TEOTWAWKI.
  • Doomstead: Synonymous with a survival retreat.
  • Dutch Oven: Very versatile cooking pot made of cast iron. It is most often used for cooking on a fire instead of a traditional oven.
  • Faraday Cage: A shielding enclosure to protect electronics from electromagnetic pulses.
  • Food Grade Bucket: According to “Food grade buckets marked HDPE 2. Other types of plastic acceptable for food storage include PETE, LDPE, and polypropylene (PP). These plastics are represented by the numbers 1, 4, and 5 respectively.”
  • Force Multiplier: A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of a successful mission accomplishment.
  • Freeze Dried Food: Food that has been dehydrated for the purpose of preserving it by freezing it in a vacuum.
  • Gamma Lid: An air tight lid for 5 gallon bucket style food grade containers.
  • Gasifier: A device that is capable of converting wood chips to combustible gas that can be used as fuel for an internal combustion engine.
  • Genny: Slang for a generator.
  • Genset: Another slang term used to refer to a generator.
  • GO Bag: Synonymous with bug out bag.
  • Hard Money: Money that is either redeemable into precious metals, or issued in the form of various precious metals.
  • Head: Slang for a toilet.
  • Heirloom Seeds: Non-GMO seeds that can be planted and replanted after every harvest.
  • Hydroponics: A method of growing plants in water instead of soil.
  • Isolated Retreat: A privately owned stronghold designed to be as self-contained and self-sufficient as possible.
  • Junk Silver: Coins that have little or no numismatic value but still have a high silver content.
  • Looters: People who haven’t prepared for emergencies who steal from others who have or steal from stores, business, vehicles, or other buildings.
  • Mall Ninja: Someone that values style and appearance over substance.
  • Marauders: Synonymous with “looters”. These are people who take from those who have supplies. Additionally, they may have intentions of tormenting people or harming them.
  • Martial Law: According to – “The imposition of the highest-ranking military officer as the military governor or as the head of the government, thus removing all power from the previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.”
  • Multi-Tool: A handy tool that contains many tools in one convenient unit – Similar to the popular Swiss Army knife.
  • Mylar Bags: Food grade bags made out of space age aluminum material which are used for long term food storage with the addition of oxygen absorbers or desiccants.
  • Oxygen Absorbers: Also known as “oxygen scavengers”. They are small packages that are added to pull oxygen out of a sealed container for long term food storage. This item is often mistakenly confused with desiccant packs.
  • Peak Oil: Used to describe a time when the world’s oil supplies will go into a state of irreversible decline.
  • Pollyanna: A person who is in denial that TEOTWAWKI could actually occur and yet they remain unusually optimistic, even when presented with compelling evidence to the contrary.
  • Power Grid: The infrastructure that is built and maintained by local power companies for the purpose of delivering electricity to homes and businesses.
  • Prepper: Short for someone who prepares for emergencies.
  • Prepping: Taking steps to prepare for emergencies.
  • Preps: This is slang for the things that preppers have stockpiled or things preppers have done to prepare to be able to survive a major catastrophe.
  • QuikClot: A clotting agent used to stop bleeding fast by trained people but only when direct pressure doesn’t work.
  • Rations: Supplies that people will need and have access to on a daily basis such as food and water.
  • Retreat: A place of refuge that is prepared in advance by preppers. Usually in lightly-populated rural areas. Sometimes referred to as bug out locations.
  • Seed Bank: A stockpile of seeds to be used after a doomsday scenario takes place.
  • Sheeple: People who blindly follow the majority of a population and are in denial about a possible breakdown in civilized society.
  • Shelf Life: The useful life of product in home storage such as food storage or medical supplies.
  • Solar Flares: Similar to CME – an ejection of sun particles in the form of radiation.
  • Solar Heater: A device that is designed to heat a room or heat water by harnessing the power of the sun.
  • Solar Oven: A solar cooker is constructed of a highly reflective surface to harness the energy of the sun for the purpose of cooking or warming food.
  • Survival Cache: A hidden supply of emergency supplies – often stored in an air-tight and waterproof container.
  • Survival Seeds: Also known as heirloom or non-GMO seeds.
  • Survivalist: Someone who has taken the time to develop the skills and acquire the knowledge necessary to live through a survival situation.
  • Sustainable Living: A lifestyle where people do things to avoid relying on supplies from the outside world. This usually includes things like gardening, raising animals to provide food, hunting, fishing, and foraging.
  • The Crunch: Another term used to describe WTSHTF.
  • Troll: Someone who intentionally posts disruptive or controversial messages in an online forum with the goal of simply causing an argument or chaos.
  • Vacuum Sealer: A device that is designed to remove all of the oxygen in a plastic or Mylar bag that is used for the purpose of extending the shelf life of food storage staples.
  • Zombie: The name for the unprepared and often aggressive looters and marauders who will want to take what you have stockpiled.

Something Else That You Might Like

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you did, why not stick around for a while and read another one. One of my most popular articles is called, “4 Incredibly Easy Ways to Optimize Your Generator’s Runtime“. I encourage you to check it out if you have the time!

Did I Miss Anything?

As I mentioned before, my goal is to make this article the most extensive resource on the Internet for people who want to learn the lingo of preppers and survivalists. I’ve tried very hard to include as many acronyms and terms as I could think of but I’m sure I missed some. If you can think of any that I missed, please feel free to share them with us all by leaving a comment in the box below.

3-29-16 Update: As time has passed, my readers have commented on other terms that you might find useful. Be sure to read through the comment section below and as mentioned, if you think of something you would like to add, please feel free to do so.

21 Responses to “How to Speak the Language of Preppers and Why You Should Learn It”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Keebler says:

    Very nice, I’m sure this will help many – It helped Jog my memory.

    Have a great Day.


  2. Grampa says:

    Troll brain!!! ~ The condition of someone who must use all both brain cells at full tilt to provide any conversation that is usually disruptive.

  3. Les Holladay says:

    I’m a Ph.D. physical chemist… Oxygen absorbers do NOT absorb water, and are thus NOT a desiccant. Silica gel is a widely used water absorber. This confusion is a very common one.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Thanks Les,

      I really appreciate your expertise and comment! I’ve made the necessary correction to my article and added an actual bullet point for “desiccants” since they’re a different product that serve different purposes.

  4. Jay says:

    FILO: First in last out

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Thanks Jay! I added your suggestion to the list of acronyms.

      • Jay says:

        Thank you, there were alot of them I didnt know.

  5. Mack K says:

    While I somewhat agree, I also think such code languages unnecessarily exclude people. They strike me as more of a holdover from childhood (secret clubs, language to stymie adults etc) and/or more of a guy thing (sports, industry). The whole point is to have as many people prepped as possible (those who do are less of a threat and can also be a source of community effort) so why exclude people with lingo?

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Mack,

      I do see your point. My goal when writing this article wasn’t necessarily to say, “this is the lingo you must use if you’re a prepper”. It was, rather, to help people understand the slang that is already being used in the prepping community.

      • MOONDOG says:

        TLAs (3-letter acronyms) are very useful & originally developed when Morse was only means of comms, Semaphore, radio-telegraphy, signal-lamp etc. Much used by military, medics etc eg MOB-man overboard, POB-used in transportation, persons or parcels on board, RTB-return to base etc. Other amusing lines can use IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), as in ‘I might as well just Foxtrot Oscar then’

  6. Byron lauderdale says:

    EDC every day carry ,refers to the things the prepper or survivalist never leaves without.

  7. Sarah says:

    Left out E.D.C. Every Day Carry…. 🙂

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Thanks Sarah and Byron. I’ve added it to the list.

  8. Chris says:

    F.A.K…. first aid kit

    P.F.A.K… Personal first aid kit

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Thanks Chris,

      I already had FAK but I added PFAK to the list.

  9. Charlie says:

    INCH: I’m Not Coming Home

    INCH Bag: A bag for permanently abandoning your home – varies significantly in contents and weight from a Get Home Bag or 72-hour bag.

    Battle Belt: A belt, usually padded, sometimes using suspenders, to hold combat gear and emergency essentials such as an IFAK or PSK (Personal Survival Kit).

    PSK: Personal Survival Kit. Small survival kit such as a pouch or tin – never to come off your body (pockets, Battle Belt, etc.).

    Get Home Bag: Similar to a 72-Hour kit, but equipped with the intention of travelling instead of fully following a shelter-in-place plan.

  10. Charlie says:

    Web Gear: A system, generally consisting of a weapon or other belt and suspenders. Designed for carrying holstered weapons, and equipment in pouches or scabbards. Often military surplus. May be called LBE (Load Bearing Equipment), TA-50 or other names. Allows the user to carry essential, easily accessed gear for grab-and-go or if a rucksack must be abandoned, cached, floated. Also allows the user to travel light, as in going about routine tasks or for short-term hunting, scouting, etc.

  11. Charlie says:

    TEOTWAWKI – The End Of The World As We Know It.

  12. Vetmike says:

    The LBE also has a ‘butt pack’ which can carry a couple of MREs and two changes of clothing. We rarely used the ALICE as we could live for 72 hours or more on what we could carry in the ‘butt pack’. Throw in a water system like the Platypus (R) and you are good for several days.

  13. Ryott says:

    Quikclot would be a clotting agent, not an anti-clotting agent. The goal is to promote clot formation. Anti-clotting (anticoagulant) prevents clot formation a.k.a. blood thinner.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Thanks Ryott,

      I appreciate you catching my typo. I’ve made the correction.


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