Common Geocaching Phrases and Acronyms


Geocaching is full of phrases and acronyms that are not immediately obvious if you’re new to geocaching. Please use the list below to help in expanding your geocaching knowledge!

The following is taken from our book “101 Devil Caches”, click here to purchase!

Archive—Term used to indicate a geocache that has been permanently inactivated.


Attribute—Features and characteristics of a geocache or the nearby area.  Attributes include, but are not limited to, size, accessibility, pet restrictions, hours of operation, etc.


Benchmark—Survey markers placed in the United States by the National Geodetic Survey.


Benchmarking—The act of seeking out benchmarks and recording the site visit, including pictures, online.


Bureau of Land Management (BLM)—A land management bureau that is part of the United States Department of the Interior and oversees activities on millions of acres in western states.


BYOP—Acronym meaning “Bring your own pencil.”  Often indicates the cache is too small to contain a writing instrument.


Cache—A geocache.


Cache and Dash—A very simple, easy to find geocache.  One that takes minimal effort or time to find.


Cache In Trash Out (CITO)—Can be the focus of a special event or merely an ongoing activity by individual geocachers whose purpose is to remove litter from natural or recreational areas.


Collectibles—Signature items such as cards, stamps, buttons, pins, coins, and other unique trade items geocachers gather as keepsakes of the game.


Confluence Hunting—An activity whose object encourages visits to each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world.


Datum—A basis for horizontal control surveys, consisting of the latitude and longitude of a certain point.  Geocaching uses WGS84 datum.


Difficulty—A rating given to each cache, usually signified by an icon or symbol, to let cachers know how hard it will be to locate the geocache once they arrive in its general vicinity.


DNF—Acronym meaning “Did not find.”  Used to show that a cacher couldn’t locate the cache after a diligent search.


D/T—Abbreviation referring to the Difficulty and Terrain ratings of a geocache.  Usually a scale ranging from 1 to 5 including half points.


EarthCache—Locations of special importance to geologic or scientific processes regarding the Earth.  Educational in nature; no physical cache container is used, but rather a series of questions about the location must be answered to validate a “find.”


Event Cache—An assembly of geocachers at a specific time and location.


Forest Service (USFS)—A land management agency that is part of the United States Department of Agriculture and oversees activities on millions of acres of land throughout the United States.


FTF—Acronym meaning “First to find.”  Used by the very first geocacher to locate a newly listed geocache.


Geocache—A hidden container or series of containers using GPS technology to determine coordinates.


Geocaching—Classified variously as a sport, game, hobby, or activity, geocaching uses the Global Positioning System when hiding containers and then encourage others to seek them out using the same technology.  It is a loose connection of websites, organizations, and individuals spread across the entire world who interact primarily via the internet.—The largest and most frequented website wherein geocaches and associated information can be found.


Geocoin—A personalized coin created by an individual or group intended for use as a signature item, trade item, or as a trackable item.  Geocoins may be sold, traded, or given away.


Geo-Junk—Cheap, broken, or inexpensive trade items left in geocaches.


Global Positioning System (GPS)—Abbreviation referring to the Global Positioning System that consists of satellites in orbit above the earth, ground based stations, and complex computers used to determine precise locations on Earth or in space.


GPSr—Abbreviation meaning Global Positioning System receiver (handheld device), often truncated to GPS.


GPX—An independent data format used for GPS navigation devices.  This is the format many websites use to transfer geocache data.


Ground Zero—The exact location where a geocache is supposed to be.  The position of a GPSr when it indicates 0’0” remaining to the destination.


Highpointing—The practice of ascending the highest points in a given area (county, state, province, country, mountain range, etc.).


Hitchhiker—Object placed in a geocache with the intention that geocachers will transfer it to other geocaches so the owner can track its movements.


Latitude—A geographical term expressing the north-south position of a point on the Earth’s surface.  An angular measurement, expressed in degrees, and used in concert with “longitude” to pinpoint a specific location.


Leave No Trace—A program that encourages responsible land use that leaves minimal or no impacts.


Letterbox—A container used in both letterboxing and geocaching wherein personalized stamps are exchanged instead of trade items.


Letterboxing—An early form of geocaching wherein boxes are hidden and described with physical clues rather than GPS coordinates.  Letterboxing dates to the mid-nineteenth century and continues to the present day.


Locationless Cache—A geocache wherein players locate a unique type of object, such as a public fountain, and record its coordinates online.  It differs from a traditional geocache in that it allows the seeker to determine what the cache actually is.  Also called a reverse cache.


Log—A physical paper or notebook used by geocachers to record their visit to a cache.  Logging also takes place online at the cache’s listing page.  Also, the physical act of logging a cache; to log a geocache adventure.


Logbook, Logsheet—A book, notepad, or paper kept in a geocache to allow geocachers to record successful visits, thoughts, need for maintenance, or other notes.


Longitude—A geographical term expressing the east-west position of a point on the Earth’s surface.  An angular measurement, expressed in degrees, and used in concert with “latitude” to pinpoint a specific location.


LPC—Acronym meaning “Light Pole Cache.”  Used to indicate a small geocache hidden beneath the skirt of a street light or other light pole.—A blog site devoted to the outdoor activity of geocaching.


Mega-Event—A large gathering of at least 500 geocachers who meet from one to several days and participate in a variety of organized events and activities.  Mega-events are held in many different countries.


Muggle—Term that refers to individuals who do not geocache or are unaware of it.  Origin of this word comes from the popular “Harry Potter” novel and movie series’.


Multi-Cache—A geocache that has more than one stage or leg.


Mystery Cache—A geocache consisting of one or more riddles, a uniquely camouflaged container, or an entirely new geocaching concept.


NAD27—A type of geodetic referencing system that refers to the North American Datum of 1927, a system still widely used in cartography.  WGS84 is the standard datum used in geocaching.—A website providing geocache listings, resource links, and other information pertinent to the sport.


National Park Service (NPS)—An agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers national parks, monuments, historic sites, and other locations reserved for preservation.


Project A.P.E.—A series of fourteen geocaches placed in 2001 in support of the Hollywood movie, Planet of the Apes.  Only one Project A.P.E. cache remains extant.


Reverse Cache—A geocache wherein players locate a unique type of object, such as a public fountain, and record its coordinates online.  It differs from a traditional geocache in that it allows the seeker to determine what the cache actually is.  Also called a locationless cache.


Reviewer—An individual, usually a volunteer, who evaluates geocache submittals to verify standards and rules are adhered to.


ROT13—A straightforward encrypting construct which replaces a letter of the alphabet with the letter exactly 13 letters after it, assuming the alphabet is written out at least two times.  Geocachers commonly use ROT13 to encrypt hints.


Route—A GPS programming construct permitting users to navigate to a series of waypoints in a given order.


Signature Item—Unique objects belonging to a particular geocacher.  Signature items often take the form of cards, stamps, buttons, pins, coins, and handcrafted pieces.


Spoiler—Information, usually found in a cache log or on a discussion forum, that gives away unique information about a geocache, thereby diminishing the impact or experience for subsequent seekers.


Swag—Plunder, booty, treasure, trade items left in geocaches for players to exchange.


Terrain—A rating given to each cache, usually signified by an icon or symbol, to let cachers know what type of terrain to expect as they travel to a geocache.


TFTC—Acronym meaning “Thanks For The Cache.”  Commonly used in both paper and online logs.


TFTH—Acronym meaning “Thanks For The Hunt.”  Commonly used in both paper and online logs.


TNLN—Acronym meaning “Took Nothing, Left Nothing.”  Used in both paper and online logs to indicate no trading took place.


TNLNSL—Acronym meaning “Took Nothing, Left Nothing, Signed Log.”  Used to indicate no trading took place.


TNSL—Acronym meaning “Took Nothing, Signed Log.”  Used to indicate no trading took place.


Topographic Maps (Topo Maps)—Extremely detailed maps marked by contour lines to indicate relief and elevation.  Topo maps highlight both man-made and natural features.


TOTT—Acronym meaning “Tools Of The Trade.”  Used in logs or cache listings in reference to specialized or common tools used by geocachers.


Trackback—Feature available on many GPS units that allows users to create a digital map of their travels and then follow the route in reverse order.  Often considered a safety feature to avoid becoming lost.


Trade Items—Term given to swag, treasure, collectibles, signature items, and geo-junk left in geocaches for players to exchange.


Traditional Cache—A geocache of any size that consists of a container and a log and resides at the listed coordinates.


Travel Bug—Similar to a hitchhiker, but with a tracking tag provided by  Travel bugs often have a specific mission or purpose with the intent of traveling to many geocaches.


Tread Lightly—A land use philosophy promoting “responsible outdoor recreation through ethics, education, and stewardship programs.”


UTM—Abbreviation meaning Universal Transverse Mercator, a two-dimensional geographic coordinate system.  It serves as an alternative to WGS84 which is the standard system used for all geocaches.


Virtual Cache—A variation of a geocache that doesn’t use a physical cache, but rather a unique location as the treasure.


WAAS—Abbreviation meaning Wide Area Augmentation System.  WAAS enhances the Global Positioning System with the use of ground-based monitoring stations and computers, thereby improving accuracy.


Waymarking—An activity that uses GPS technology to mark the coordinates of interesting, unique, or important locations around the world.  Participants then post the coordinates or waymark along with photos and background information about the site.  Waymarking incorporates locationless or reverse caches, virtual caches, and webcam caches.


Waypoint—A precise physical location, expressed in coordinates, for navigational purposes.


Webcam Cache—A geocache requiring players to occupy a specific location being recorded by a camera that is broadcasting images over the internet.  Another person simultaneously uses a computer to capture the broadcast image to verify completion of the task.


WGS84—Abbreviation meaning World Geodetic System of 1984.  A standard datum used in cartography and navigation as a coordinate reference system by the Global Positioning System.  It is the standard datum format for geocaching.


Whereigo Cache—Type of geocache that incorporates special apps and downloadable files called cartridges.  Players of this form of caching integrate real-world actions and experiences with GPS adventures.  It allows a blending of both virtual and material worlds.

  1. Wilbury Travels
    Wilbury Travels01-21-2015

    Thanks for all the info, I had heard about most of these but the Whereigo cache was something I did not know anything about really, now I know it is an app I have it downloaded and signed up and can finally go check out some of those caches :)

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