Like any community, people into Survival and Preparedness tend to have their own language. In this case, a lot of that language is made up of abbreviations and acronyms. Since we were seeing a lot of these in the comments and they weren’t always easy to figure out, I asked our resident survival expert Bo to put together a list. As you can see, he did not disappoint.
ABAO: all bets are off, an EOTW situation
ARES: Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Armchair Commando: An individual that has a one-track mind to preparedness (firearms) and that never trains. See also Chairborne Ranger and Mall Ninja
ARRL: American Radio Relay League
Balloon goes up: a phrase used to imply impending trouble. This relates to the use of observation balloons in the First World War. The sight of such a balloon going up nearly always resulted in a barrage of shells following soon after. The expression was reinforced during WW2 when the hoisting of barrage balloons was part of the preparations for an air raid.
BG: bad guy
Blowout kit, also called an IFAK or ventilated-operator kit, an individual’s kit designed to treat life-threatening wounds, including penetrative wounds of the thoracic cavity, severe bleeding, traumatic amputation, and collapsed airway.
BOB: a bug-out bag, something designed to get you to your retreat, bug-out location, or through the next three days.
BOL: bug-out location, this is your retreat or fallback position. It’s where you’re going when the balloon goes up.
BOV: bug-out vehicle, the car, truck, van, RV, motorcycle, horse, etc. that you will use to get to your BOL. Many preppers have dedicated BOV’s.
Bravo Sierra: See: BS
BS: Bullshit, a lie or fantastic story, also spoken “Bravo Sierra” or “Barbra Streisand”.
Can: a common slang term for a firearm sound suppressor.
CB: citizen’s band radio, a HF 2-way transmission band at 27 MHz, or 11 meters, that requires no license for operation in the United States. Some CB transceivers are capable of SSB (single sideband) operation. Originally, 23 channels, the Citizen’s Band later expanded to 40 channels in the 1970s.
CCW: carrying a concealed weapon. See also: LTC.
CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Department of Health and Human Services tasked with protecting public health and safety by providing information to promote health and prevent disease.
CERT: Community Emergency Response Team, an organization of volunteer emergency workers who have received specific training in basic disaster response skills, and who agree to supplement existing emergency responders in the event of a major disaster.
Chairborne Ranger: a military or preparedness Walter Mitty, a wannabe that spends his time fantasizing instead of doing. See also Armchair Commando and Mall Ninja.
Crunch, the: see SHTF
CWP: Concealed Weapon(s) Permit, see CCW and LTC.
D – F
Doomer: the Peak Oil crowd’s term for someone, that foresees a chaotic societal collapse when oil supplies get short.
EDC: everyday carry, the kit you have with you every day, knife, keys, wallet, watch, etc.
EMP: an electromagnetic pulse, often the result of a nuclear detonation.
EOTW: end of the world (see TEOTWAWKI)
ETA: estimated time of arrival
ELE: extinction level event ,a widespread and rapid decrease in the amount of life on earth.
Elmer: an experienced volunteer who helps new people interested in amateur radio, a mentor or volunteer tutor.
FAK: first aid kit
FEMA: the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government agency concerned with continuity of government in the event of an emergency. Also jokingly defined as “Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid.”
FRS: Family Radio Service, a short-range UHF FM walkie-talkie that requires no license in the U.S. See also GMRS and MURS.
FMJ: Full Metal Jacket, a bullet that does not expand when it strikes tissue, also called “ball” ammunition.
GHB: your get-home bag, similar to a BOB, but kept in the car or workplace, designed to get you home in case the SHTF. Also called a GMHB, or get me home bag
GMRS: General Mobile Radio, a licensed UHF FM 2-way radio service. See also FRS and MURS.
GOOD: get out of Dodge (as in Dodge City), to escape from areas with high population density to your predetermined BOL.
GWOT: global war on terror
GOOD Kit: get out of dodge kit, an enlarged BOB, possiblyyou’re your car, that can help you get to your BOL, “possibly for your car or BOV.
Goblin: a generic euphemism for someone with bad intent, a VCA, coined by the late Col. Jeff Cooper.
Grid Down: An extended period of time when the power grid is non-functional. Se also YOYO.
H – I
H5N1: The CDC’s designation for one of the current strains of the Asian Avian influenza, sometimes called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).
Ham: a slang term for an amateur radio operator.
IFAK: individual or improved first aid kit, depending on military branch source. See blowout kit.
IMP: Individual Meal Pack, Canadian equivalent to an MRE.
INCH Bag: I’m never coming home bag, a bag containing all of the supplies you’d like to have in the event that one cannot return to his or her primary location.
J – L
JHP: Jacketed Hollow Point, ammunition designed to expand in tissue, creating a large and permanent wound channel.
JSP: Jacketed Soft Point, ammunition designed to flatten or mushroom upon impact, similar to JHP’s, but with more limited expansion.
LBE: Load Bearing Equipment, a generic name for military-style suspenders or vest used for carrying magazine pouches, canteen, a pistol holster, IFAK, and other small kit. Also called web gear
LBV: Load Bearing Vest, a vest-specific version of an LBE.
LSB: Lower Sideband. One of the two “single side bands” that can be selected on a suitably-equipped radio transceiver. See also “SSB” and “USB”.
LTC: License to Carry, a state or in some cases county-issued license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. See also: CCW.
MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction by global thermonuclear war.
Mall Ninja: Someone that values style over substance, a Walter Mitty survivalist. See also: Armchair Commando and Chairborne Ranger.
MOLLE: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, the current generation of load-bearing equipment and rucksacks utilized by the United States armed forces, popular among preppers and Mall Ninjas alike. See PALS.
MRE: Meal, Ready to Eat, individual military field rations. Different nations manufacture and distribute their own variations on the theme. Sometimes derisively known as “Meals Rejected by Ethiopians”, “Meals Rarely Eaten” and “Three lies for the price of one” (It isn’t a meal, it’s not ready, and you can’t eat it)
MZB: mutant zombie bikers, post-apocalyptic Mad Max-style looters.
N – P
NBC: nuclear, biological, chemical, referring to incidents, whether accidental or intentional, involving special circumstances and preparations.
NODs: Night Observation Device, a night vision scope or goggles.
OODA: Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action, often called the “OODA loop” it explains the process that one uses to make decisions and act.
PALS: Pouch Attachment Ladder System, a grid of webbing used to attach smaller equipment onto load-bearing platforms, such as vests and backpacks.
Pollyanna: someone that is in denial that TEOTWAWKI could occur and remains cheerfully optimistic, even confronted with evidence to the contrary. The “Pollyanna” label popularized in the two years preceding Y2K, sometimes rendered as “Polly” for short.
Prepper: someone who practices preparedness, usually as a lifestyle.
Preps: slang for preparations.
R – T
Retreat: a place of refuge that the owner has prepared in advance. Usually in lightly populated rural regions.
SHTF: Shit hits the fan (or Schumer hits the fan), when disaster strikes, an emergency.
Schumeresque: A scenario of intolerably bad (post-TEOTWAWKI) circumstances (i.e. the Schumer has been widely distributed.)
Sheeple: (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a term of disparagement likening people herd animals, describing those who voluntarily acquiesce to a suggestion without critical analysis or research, undermining their own individuality and live in a state of denial.
SSB: Single Sideband, an operating mode for CB and amateur radio)
TEOTWAWKI: the end of the world as we know it.
TMI: Too Much Information, whenever someone gets far too detailed and/or personal, telling other people things they really didn’t want to know.
TPTB: the powers that be, a generic term for government or corporate authorities, people with power.
U – Z
USB: Upper Sideband, an operating mode for CB and amateur radio. See also “LSB” and “SSB”.
VCA: Violent Criminal Actor, often used by military and law enforcement.
WCS: a worst-case scenario, when the S really HTF.
Web Gear: a generic term for tactical load bearing equipment such as pistol belts, Y-harnesses, magazine pouches, vests, etc.
WTSHTF: When the shit hits the fan, see “SHTF”.
YOYO: you’re on your own, when government ceases to provide essential services such as fire department and police department protection, and when utilities no longer provide water, sanitation, electricity and phone service.