Survival Vocabulary: Prepper Terms, Abbreviations and Acronyms

If you visit this website or any other survival-related websites, you’ve probably come across some pretty strange language, abbreviations, and acronyms. While it’s sometimes hard to get away from using them, they can confuse new readers, so I try to limit their use in my articles.

That being said, they are out there and if you are wondering what they mean here is our list of the most common Survival terms, abbreviations, and acronyms.

Prepper Terms: What it all means…

A Book marked Survival Dictionary

What is a Bug Out Bag?

A BOB, also known as a Bug Out Bag, is probably one of the most talked about items on survival websites and has become a bit of an iconic symbol for preppers and survivalists. They are also sometimes called Go Bags, 72 Hour Bags, Get Home Bags, Get out of Dodge bags, etc..

What is a Bug Out Vehicle?

BOV: BOV stands for Bug-Out Vehicle, which is a particular type of transportation that you plan on using during a Get out of Dodge Situation. BOVs can be anything from a bike or ATV to a fully loaded off-road vehicle or RV.

What is a Bug Out Location

BOL: BOL stands for Bug Out Location, and is used to describe a safe place where you plan on going during and emergency situation, should there be a disaster that would cause you to evacuate from your home.

What is a Doomsday Prepper

Doomsday Prepper is a term that’s often used by the media to make preppers look like extremist wackos. This term was made popular by the T.V. show Doomsday Preppers. Unfortunately, that is the stereotype most people picture when they hear the term.

What is an EDC

EDC: EDC stands for Every Day Carry, and is used to refer to items that you should have on your person at all times.

What does it Mean when Someone says Get Out of Dodge?

Get out of Dodge is a term used to describe the need to get the hell out of your area. It’s often used in conjunction with, or in place of the term, Bug Out. It’s an important part of Preparedness, and we recommend that everyone has a good evacuation (Get out of Dodge) plan in place.

What is Ham Radio?

Amateur radio, also called ham radio, is a service where licensed operators can use radio technology to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” HAM Radio operators are often the only line of communication in the initial stages of a disaster. Their ability to communicate when the grid goes down is one of the primary reasons that I highly advise our readers to look into HAM Radio.

What is Normalcy Bias?

The term is used to describe the mental state a person enters when facing a crisis. It’s a dangerous psychological coping mechanism because it causes the person to either underestimate or ignore the disaster and its related threats.

More often than not, it affects people who depend on the government for everything. They mistakenly believe nothing bad can ever happen, and if it does the government will be there to protect them.

What is a Prepper?

A prepper is someone who actively prepares for catastrophic events, disasters and SHTF situations. Stereo typically they do this through stockpiling food, water, and emergency supplies. They can sometimes be referred to as Survivalists, although the term survivalist is often used to describe someone who goes beyond just prepping.

What does Shelter in Place Mean?

Shelter in Place is the opposite of bugging out. It’s used to describe a situation where hunkering down in your home is the best option during an emergency situation.

What does SHTF Mean?

SHTF: SHTF is probably one of the most used survival terms during the last couple of years. It stands for Shit Hits The Fan and is used to describe catastrophic events, disasters, and scenarios where everything has spiraled out of control. SHTF events are usually temporary events.

What is a Survivalist?

The term survivalist is often used to describe someone who is actively preparing for SHTF situations. Survivalists often go beyond preppers by training themselves in self-defense, urban and wilderness survival, and a variety of other survival skills.

What is a Survival SWOT?

SWOT Analysis: A SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful method of really understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses. It will also help you identify Opportunities that you can exploit, and Threats that you might face in a survival situation. Performing a SWOT Analysis on yourself and your capabilities is an excellent way to determine how prepared you are.


TEOTWAWKI stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. Like SHTF, it’s used to describe a catastrophic event or disaster. When people use this term, they are often referring to something more cataclysmic in nature, where life after the event is nothing like the world we now know. Examples of TEOTWAWKI events include a total economic and political collapse, a Cyber Attack on our infrastructure, an EMP event or a global pandemic.

What does WROL mean?

This term stands for Without Rule Of Law, and is used to describe a situation where law enforcement will be nonexistent. It’s often used to describe what events could look like after a SHTF or TEOTWAWKI event.

What is the rule of threes?

The rule of threes, as a very general rule of thumb means we can survive:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

Have a term that you think should be on the list? Leave it in the comments below…

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1 Comment

  1. How about “grey man” (blending in, being inconspicuous). Took me awhile before I understood. Also zombies. The term really threw me for a loop. A friend of mine explained that is was a code word for “dangerous desperate and unprepared people”. His words not mine

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