This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you.*
The world of prepping, survivalism, and homesteading is basically one huge subculture. And as with every subculture, it has its own terms, acronyms, and concepts that the rest of society isn’t familiar with.
If you’re new to this world, you’re going to come across most of these terms eventually. In fact, you’ve probably already seen terms like “bug out bag” or acronyms such as “SHTF”.
In this article, I’m going to list all the most common prepper terms and acronyms and explain what they mean. We’ll start with the acronyms. (If you’re still confused by the terms the acronyms stand for, most of them are explained in the section on prepper terms below.)
BOB: Bug Out Bag.
BOL: Bug Out Location.
BOV: Bug Out Vehicle.
BSTS: Better safe than sorry.
BUG: Backup Gun.
CCW: Concealed Carry Weapon.
CME: Coronal Mass Ejection, refers to powerful eruptions on the sun that can breach the Earth’s atmosphere and knock out electronics, similar to an EMP.
EDC: Everyday Carry.
EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse.
EOD: End of Days.
EOD: End of Times.
EOTW: End of the world.
FAK: First Aid Kit.
FIFO: First In First Out.
GHB: Get Home Bag.
GOOD: Get Out Of Dodge.
HEMP: High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse.
IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit.
JIC: Just In Case.
MRE: Meal Ready To Eat.
NBC: Nuclear Biological Chemical.
PFAK: Personal First Aid Kit.
PSK: Personal Survival Kit.
SHTF: Shit hits the fan (alternate: stuff hits the fan).
TBTF: Too Big To Fail.
TEOTWAWKI: The end of the world as we know it.
TPTB: The Powers That Be.
WROL: Without Rule of Law.
YOYO: You’re On Your Own.
Now here are the most common prepper terms you need to know.
72 Hour Bag: Another term for a bug out bag (see below).
Alpha Strategy: Storing extra supplies for the purposes of trade or personal use in a disaster.
Ballistic Wampum: Ammunition stored for disaster preparedness purposes. (Here are the best ammo calibers to have.)
Big Berkey: A family water filtration system that can remove harmful bacteria and toxins from water; this is definitely something you will want to keep in your home for emergencies. Here’s a basic Big Berkey.
Bug Out Bag: A simple backpack or bag of survival items that you have ready to go when you need to bug out a moment’s notice. Your bug out bag should consist of basic survival items that will allow you to survive for at least three days or 72 hours. Check out this list of the top 100 bug out bag items for more info.
Bug Out Location: A designated location outside of the danger zone that you bug out too.
Bug Out Vehicle: A vehicle that is large enough to transport you, your family, and your supplies, and can also go off-road in case roads are blocked. Here are a few examples.
Bugging In: Refers to staying at home during a disaster.
Bugging Out: Refers to evacuating your home during a disaster, either by your own choice or because you are ordered to.
Doomer: Somebody who believes disaster is coming and chaos will ensue. These are hardcore preppers.
Dutch Oven: A cast iron pot that can cook food on the hot coals of a campfire. Here’s a good one.
Electromagnetic Pulse: A weapon that when detonated in the atmosphere would knock out all electronics within a certain radius; the higher and stronger the EMP is, the more electronics will be affected. Examples of items that won’t work after an EMP include phones, tablets, computers, TVs, and most vehicles (some vehicles made before 1990 will still run).
Faraday Cage: An improvised device that can shield the electronic items inside from an EMP attack or solar flare. Examples of homemade Faraday cages include galvanized metal trash cans or a cardboard box wrapped in aluminum foil. Read this to learn how to make one for just a few dollars.
Food Insurance: Refers to the food stockpile you have in your home; start with a one month supply and then increase to a six month supply and then a one year’s supply. Here’s how.
Gamma Lid: An airtight lid that is used for plastic containers that are food grade.
Get Home Bag: A small backpack of survival items that you keep in your vehicle should you need to abandon your car and try to get home during an urban disaster; should contain enough survival items to enable you to survive for at least one day or twenty-four hours. The get home bag is smaller and lighter than the bug out bag. Here’s what to put in it.
Go-To Bag: Another term for a bug out bag.
Grid Down: Means the power grid has gone down, likely as a result of a CME or EMP.
Larder: Typically refers to a pantry, but can also be used to refer to any place where you store food for survival and disaster-related purposes.
Mason Jars: Simple glass jars that are used for canning food.
Mylar Bags: Bags that are used to provide a barrier between stored survival food and sunlight. Here’s how to use them.
Pollyanna: Somebody who denies that a major disaster will ever occur.
Preppers: People who prepare for disaster by storing food and supplies, learning survival skills, and so on. Most preppers are normal people who make basic preparations for disaster.
Rendezvous Point: A pre-determined location where you meet up with your survival group before continuing to evacuate to your designated bug out location.
Rule of Threes: You can live for three minutes without oxygen, three hours without shelter in harsh environments, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Here’s some more info.
Sheeple: Refers to people who are largely unprepared for a disaster and will follow the rest of the crowd.
Solar Oven: A cardboard box lined with aluminum foil to bake food using the sun’s energy.
Survival Cache: A collection of survival items that you bury or hide at a location away from your home; the survival cache would ideally be buried in between your house and your bug out location so you can resupply yourself en route. Sealed PVC pipes, Pelican cases, and military ammo cans are the most common choices for a cache container. Here’s an article with more info.
Two is One, One is None: When your life is on the line, you live by Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong). That means a crucial piece of survival gear is going to break, so always have a second piece in case the first one fails.
Technically that’s a little more than 50 terms and acronyms, but close enough. What did I forget?