20 Prepping Terms You Need to Know

It’s official! We live in an era that loves (or hates) acronyms and code words. If you have spent any amount of time researching survival topics, it’s very likely that you’ve come across a slew of unknown acronyms. Every prepper has stood where you stand with questions and terms they would like to better understand. Today I am going to help you that! Here are 20 prepping terms you need to know.

The Language of Preppers and Survivalists

When a disaster strikes, there will be no time for lengthy conversations and explanations because every second counts. The world of prepping, survivalism, and homesteading is basically a big subculture with its own terms, acronyms, and concepts that may be unfamiliar to most people. If you’ve been reading my blog or are new to this world, but curious, you’ve probably come across acronyms like “SHTF” or terms like “bug out bag.” The preppers and survivalists of the world created these terms and acronyms to get the information out there as quickly and efficiently as possible. Let’s start with 20 of the most important prepper terms that you should know.

20 prepping terms you need to know


It stands for “Sh*t Hits The Fan (alternate: Stuff Hits The Fan.) When SHTF, all hell’s broken loose and you’re either in the midst of a disaster or about to be really soon. At this point, you need to either get out and find your Bug out Location or shelter in place and ride it out. Either way, life is about to get more complicated (or less complicated if you’ve already prepared for this moment.)

Similar terms:

  • EOTW– End Of The World
  • TEOTWAWKI– The End Of The World As We Know It

I’m not really a fan of the super long acronyms and I’m just curious. This stuff is easy to read online, but do people really say these terms out loud in conversation? I’m going to ask a seasoned prepper and get back to you on that one…

Okay! Reporting back! I just found out that people don’t really say these things in real life face to face. It’s just to get past some of the online filters. I’m relieved because I think it would slow me down and sound really weird to whip out some of these acronyms in spoken conversation ??

2. Prepper

That’s me and that’s you! We are the people who think of potential dangers and disasters and plan ahead for them. We keep food, water, first aid/medical supplies, and bartering supplies in a safe place until SHTF. Whether it’s Mother Nature remodeling the world or tyrannical governments throwing the kinds of tantrums that lead to wars and economic collapse; we are prepared to survive.

Prepping terms
20 prepping terms you need to know

3. Bug Out

To bug out means to leave your current location and get to a safer place. You only want to bug out if you have a safe place to go. When SHTF don’t aimlessly run out the door without a plan and a place to go.

4. Bug In

It’s probably obvious that bugging in is the opposite of bugging out. This means that you will stay in place where you are. Hopefully you have prepared your defenses and installed some security measures around your property if you opt for this option. Hopefully you are bugging in because you have decided that it is safer than bugging out. Only you can decide whether you need to bug in or bug out.

5. BOB

BOB stands for Bug Out Bag. This will be your lifeline when SHTF. Hopefully it is stocked with the essentials you will need to survive. If you have to Bug Out then you should plan on having at least 3 days worth of supplies. Your BOB needs to have enough food, water, and medical supplies that will sustain you while you move to a safer location. If you anticipate some obstacles on your way to your Bug Out Location then you may need a larger BOB or a closer Bug Out Location(BOL).

Similar Term:

  • GOOD Kit- “Get Out Of Dodge Kit” This term is longer than “BOB” and it means the same thing so I don’t really use it.

6. BOL

A BOL is your “Bug Out Location.” It is the safe place that you will move to when SHTF and you need to But Out. A lot of preppers only have one BOL, but I think it is important to have more foresight than that. I personally have multiple BOLs that I can choose from depending on the condition and my location. Some may think it’s paranoid. I call it being prepared!

7. BOV

It’s a good idea to have a BOV. This is your “Bug Out Vehicle.” This is the chariot that will get you safely out of danger when disaster strikes. It can be your daily driver or a custom-made, rugged 4-wheel drive end of the world vehicle. It should provide you with a fast and reliable way to get to your BOL.

If the checklist below makes sense then you’re definitely already a prepper at heart!

Prepping terms
20 prepping terms you need to know

8. Cache or Stash

Your cache and stash both refer to the supplies that you’ve stored in a safe and secure location. You can also bury your stashes en route to your various BOLs.

9. EDC

“Everyday Carry” is any item that you have with you everywhere you go to ensure that you are prepared. My current EDC includes: House keys/ car keys + pepper spray, passport / Identification, face mask, and phone. I don’t even carry a purse anymore because I like to travel as lightly as possible. In a survival situation, I will definitely be carrying more than that.

10. YOYO

YOYO is really bad news in the prepping world and it’s nothing like the fun bouncy toy on a string. It means “You’re On Your Own.” You might see or hear this if you’ve missed the call to Bug Out or missed your ride. You may see this scrawled on the wall of your BOL if someone has taken your stash. I hope that we will never encounter YOYO, but you better have a backup plan just in case.

Prepping terms you need to know
20 prepping terms you need to know

11. BSTS

Better Safe Than Sorry. I think this one speaks for itself. It means having backups for your backups. Redundancy is key for prepping.

12. MRE

Meals Ready to Eat are calorie-dense meals sealed in lightweight packages that are easy to carry and store. They require no preparation in the field. You can find them in military surplus stores and prepper websites.

13. ELE

ELE stands for “Extinction Level Event.” If you hear someone shout this then it means the world is about to end and you better bug in. This could be a global catastrophic event like a super volcanic eruption, massive meteor shower, or magnetic pole reversal. It is unlikely that anyone will survive an ELE, but a prepper has a better chance than a Pollyanna.

14. Pollyanna

The dictionary definition of Pollyanna is “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.” This is actually a new term for me. I haven’t heard of this before. Have you? See? We learn something new everyday! In the prepping world, Pollyannas are in total denial. They don’t believe that disasters will strike and they think that people shouldn’t waste time getting prepared. I guess that ignorance is bliss, but that’s okay. There isn’t much space in the wasteland for people who don’t believe that bad things can happen and aren’t prepared to deal with them.

15. Sheeple

While a sheeple isn’t as severely clueless as a Pollyanna, it isn’t much better. They are the people who trust and follow their government or media with no questions asked. They may believe that bad things could happen, but they don’t prep because they think that the government will be there to save them.

16. EMP

EMP stands for “Electromagnetic Pulse.” If you’ve been following the news over the past few years, you’ve probably heard this term a few times. The alarming ones come from a nuclear detonation. An EMP can potentially knock out every single electronic device without warning. Worst of all, an EMP would likely disable all forms of communication and cause the collapse of our country’s infrastructure.

17. Grid Down

This term refers to the power grid. It could be as simple as a localized blackout or as severe as an EMP that takes down the power grid of an entire country. In either situation, there would be no power so you will need to have a source of water, heat, and light.

18. Off-Grid

A person who goes off grid has chosen a life without traditional power and water that is supplied by the community. These people are the ultimate super preppers who already have everything they need to survive and no longer require the government’s assistance. If any of us survive an ELE then we will end up off grid too. We better start preparing now!

Going Off Grid With No Money

19. Rule of 3

The rule of 3 is a simple way to remember that you can generally go 3 minutes without air. 3 hours without shelter (in dangerous conditions.) 3 weeks without food and 3 days without water. It is a general rule to help you decide which of your basic needs require attention.

20. Zombie

Zombies are the unprepared people who survived the disaster, but are now after your cache and stash. They will be devious, dangerous, and aggressive. Make sure that you have adequate protection before SHTF.

25 Prepper Acronyms You Should Know


Preppers have a whole language that helps them stay connected even when the grid goes down. Some will be intuitive while others will take some time to get used to. For now, these 20 terms will help you get started and dip your toes into this exciting pool of prepping.

Have you heard of any of these prepping terms? Do you have any prepping questions? Please comment below and I will do my best to answer. I’m even open to writing articles addressing specific questions and issues.

See you soon!