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Glossary of Terms

The Geocaching.com glossary is always changing. If you have suggestions for future additions, please contact us.

1/1
This is a set of Difficulty and Terrain (D/T) ratings. Geocaches are rated in two categories, each designated on a 5-point scale. Difficulty relates to the mental challenge of finding a cache and terrain describes the physical environment. A 1/1 difficulty/terrain rating would the easiest cache to find, while a 5/5 difficulty/terrain rating would be the most difficult. Our Geocache Rating System can be used to help set the rating for your geocache.
ALR
"Additional Logging Requirement". Logging requirements beyond finding the geocache and signing the log. All ALRs must be optional for finders of a cache.
Ammo Can
Ammunition boxes or ammo cans are containers originally designed for safe transport and storage of ammunition. Ammo cans are popular containers for regular or large geocaches.
APE Cache or Project A.P.E. Cache
In 2001, fourteen geocaches were placed in conjunction with 20th Century Fox to support the movie Planet of the Apes. Each geocache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an Alternative Primate Evolution. These geocaches were made using specially marked ammo cans and contained an original prop from the movie. Only one Project A.P.E. cache still exists today.
Archive
Archiving permanently removes a geocache listing from search results. A geocache owner can archive their own listing. A geocache owner cannot unarchive it. As an alternative to archiving, the geocache can be temporarily disabled if maintenance is going to be performed or the container will be replaced in the near future.
Attribute
These are icons on a details page for geocaches, and are intended to provide helpful information to geocachers who wish to find geocaches with specific characteristics. There are several classes of attributes such whether or not you need special equipment, possible hazards along the way, and unique conditions one should be aware of. Attributes can also show whether or not a cache is wheelchair accessible, dog friendly, requires a flashlight, and more. Attributes are also a tool to help you filter the types of geocaches you would like to search for when building a Pocket Query. Learn more about Attributes here.
Basic Members
The introductory membership type for Geocaching.com. There are two types of membership, Basic and Premium. Geocaching Premium membership offers additional features that Basic membership does not provide.
Benchmark
Using your GPS unit and/or written directions provided by NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS), you can seek out NGS survey markers and other items that have been marked in the United States. Check out our page about benchmark hunting for more details.
Bison
Also known as a "Bison tube". A small, metal, water-tight cylindrical container that can be used for micro caches. Its name comes from the original manufacturer, but there are now several other brands on the market.
Bookmark List
A Geocaching Premium feature that can be used to group cache listings in whatever way you like. You may want a bookmark list of caches you intend to find this weekend or perhaps an "all-time favorite" list to share with friends.
Bug
Also known as a Travel Bug®. Travel Bugs are trackable tags you can attach to items. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here.
BYOP
"Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil". An acronym often used by geocache owners to communicate to other geocachers that you will need to bring your writing utensil in order to sign the cache logbook.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers millions of acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States. The BLM sustains the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Learn more at www.blm.gov.
Cache
A shortened version of the word geocache.
Caches along a Route
A Geocaching Premium feature that allows you to identify caches along a specific route for convenient geocaching.
Cacher
Also known as Geocacher. One who participates in geocaching.
Challenge Cache
Requires that geocachers meet a geocaching-related qualification or series of tasks before the challenge cache can be logged. Waymarking, Benchmarking, and Wherigo-related qualifications or series of tasks also qualify.
Charter Member
Geocachers who bought Premium Memberships the first year they were offered and have maintained them ever since. Please thank any Charter Members you meet on the trail since the site would not be here today without them.
CITO
"Cache In Trash Out" is an ongoing environmental initiative supported by the worldwide geocaching community. Since 2002, geocachers have been dedicated to cleaning up parks and other cache-friendly places around the world. Learn more at www.geocaching.com/cito.
Collectible
A status assigned to any trackable item that people can keep it in their possession, and do not have to physically move it to another geocache. Conversely, non-collectible trackable items can be easily grabbed, dropped, discovered, etc. More about trackables here.
Collection
A grouping or list of collectible trackable items that can be seen only by the owner. Trackables in a collection can only be discovered, and cannot be grabbed, dropped or dipped. Conversely, items in an Inventory can be seen by other geocachers and can be grabbed, dropped, discovered, etc. More about trackables here.
Coordinates
A pair of numbers (latitude and longitude) that pinpoints an exact position, or waypoint, on the Earth. Latitude lines are parallel to the equator, and longitude lines are parallel to the Prime Meridian.
Creed, The
Also known as the "Geocachers' Creed". Designed to help orient new players to the ethos of the geocaching community and to guide experienced players in questionable situations, so that everyone can enjoy geocaching.
Dipping
The act of logging a trackable into a cache, and immediately logging it back into one's possession. This registers miles traveled on on a trackable. You can also achieve the same goal with a "Visit" log. More information about trackables can be found here.
Datum
In the case of GPS, datums are different calculations for determining longitude and latitude for a given location. A datum is chosen to give the best fit given the true shape of the Earth. Currently, Geocaching.com uses the WGS84 datum for all caches.
DNF
"Did Not Find". An acronym used by geocachers to state that they did not find a cache.
Difficulty and Terrain or D/T
Geocaches are rated in two categories, each designated on a 5-point scale (in half-point increments). Difficulty relates to the mental challenge of finding a cache and terrain describes the physical environment. Therefore, a D1/T1 rating would be the easiest cache to find, while a D5/T5 difficulty/terrain rating would be the most difficult. Our Geocache Rating System can be used to help set the rating for your geocache.
Disable
Geocache owners can temporarily disable a listing, which will take the geocache page offline. Do this if the geocache needs repairs, or if the area is closed for a period of time (construction, hunting, winter closures, etc.) This is meant to be temporary, which means a few weeks or perhaps a couple of months.
EarthCache
An EarthCache is a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature of our Earth. EarthCache pages include a set of educational notes along with cache coordinates. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how geological processes have shaped our planet, how we manage its resources and how scientists gather evidence to learn about the Earth.
Event Cache
An Event Cache is a gathering of geocachers or geocaching organizations. The Event Cache page specifies a time for the event and provides coordinates to its location.
Find Count
The number of geocaches a player has found.
FTF
"First to Find". An acronym written by geocachers in physical cache logbooks or online when logging cache finds to denote being the first to find a new geocache.
GC Code
A unique identifier associated with every geocache listing. The GC Code starts with the letters "GC" and is followed by other alphanumeric characters, such as GCK25B.
Geocache
A container hidden that includes, at minimum, a logbook for geocachers to sign. Also known as acache. However, there are currently over a dozen "cache types", each type being a different variation of the game. See the full list of Geocache Types.
Geocaching
A real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
Geocaching HQ
World headquarters of Geocaching.com, Waymarking.com, Wherigo.com, and Groundspeak. Located in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Geocoin
A Geocoin works similarly to a Travel Bug® in that they are trackable and can travel the world, picking up stories from cache to cache. Geocoins are often created as signature items by geocachers and can also be used as collectibles. More information about Geocoins and trackables can be found here.
Giga-Event
An Event Cache that is attended by 5,000+ people. These large events attract geocachers from all over the world and are often held annually. Note: A Mega-Event cache is attended by 500+ people.
GPS
"Global Positioning System". It is a system of satellites that work with a GPS receiver to determine your location on the planet. Check out this page to learn more about geocaching with a GPS, plus other cool geocaching resources.
GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit
The GPS Adventures Maze is a traveling educational exhibit developed to teach people of all ages about navigation, GPS technology and geocaching. A hands-on experience that features GPS technology (its history, current uses and future possibilities), it simulates geocaching by leading visitors through a 2,500 square foot maze rich with interactive science experiences. While the GPS Adventures Maze has ended its run in the United States, geocachers wishing to experience this exhibit will still have the opportunity to do so in Canada and at Mega-Events throughout Europe.
GPSr
Slang for a GPS receiver. Equipment to receive GPS signals for use in navigation.
GPX (GPS eXchange Format)
A GPS data format used when creating Pocket Queries.
Ground Zero (GZ)
The point where your GPS device shows that you have reached the geocache location. At ground zero, you are zero feet (or zero meters) away from your destination.
Groundspeak
Groundspeak, Inc. is the company that owns and operates Geocaching.com,Waymarking.com, and Wherigo.com. Groundspeak was launched in 2000 by Jeremy Irish, Elias Alvord, and Bryan Roth. The Groundspeak headquarters is located in Seattle, Washington, USA, and is referred to as Geocaching HQ.
Hitchhiker
A hitchhiker is an item that is placed in a cache, and has instructions to travel to other caches. Sometimes they have logbooks attached so you can log their travels. A Travel Bug is an example of a hitchhiker.
Inventory
A grouping or list of non-collectible trackable items that can be seen by other geocachers. Trackables in an inventory can be grabbed, dropped, discovered, etc. Conversely, items in a Collection can only be seen by the owner and can only be discovered (not grabbed, dropped or dipped). More about Trackables here.
Latitude
Latitude and longitude create a waypoint. Latitude is the angular distance north or south from the earth's equator measured through 90 degrees. Think of latitude as rungs on a ladder.
Letterbox(ing)
Letterboxing is another form of treasure hunting using clues instead of coordinates. In some cases, the letterbox owner has made their container both a letterbox and a geocache and posted its coordinates on Geocaching.com. If there is a stamp inside a Letterbox Hybrid, it is not an item intended for trade; the stamp is meant to remain in the box so that visitors can use it to record their visit. To read more about letterboxing, visit the Letterboxing North America web site.
LOC
The original download format for the search results page on Geocaching.com.
Locationless (Reverse) Cache
Considered the opposite of a Traditional Cache. Instead of finding a hidden container, you locate a specific object and log its coordinates. Locationless Caches are no longer supported on Geocaching.com, but have evolved into Waymarking.
Lock & Lock
Lock & Lock (also seen as Lock 'n Lock or Locknlock) is a type of container that uses four snaps on the lid to create a seal. While used colloquially by geocachers, "Lock & Lock" is actually a specific brand of this kind of container.
Log
The online record of everyone who has found a geocache. Also, the physical logbook inside a cache. Also, the act of logging a find.
Logbook
A physical record of everyone who has found a geocache. Usually made of paper, logbooks come in many different sizes, shapes, and formats.
Longitude
Latitude and longitude create a waypoint. Longitude is the angular distance measured on a great circle of reference from the intersection of the adopted zero meridian with this reference circle to the similar intersection of the meridian passing through the object. Think of the long lines running north and south.
LN
"Left Nothing". A common term used when a geocacher leaves nothing in the cache and simply signs the logbook.
LPC
"Lamp Post Cache". A common type of geocache hidden under an unsecured lamp post base.
Mega-Event Cache
An Event Cache that is attended by 500+ people. These large events attract geocachers from all over the world and are often held annually. Note: A Giga-Event cache is attended by 5,000+ people.
Micro
The smallest geocache size. Micros are about the size of a film canister, and sometimes smaller.
Muggle
A non geocacher. Based on "Muggle" from the Harry Potter series, which is a non-magical person.
Muggled
The discovery of a geocache by a non geocacher. When a cache has been "muggled", it usually means it was dismantled or removed by an unsuspecting non-player.
Multi-Cache (offset Cache)
A Multi-Cache involves two or more locations. The final location is a physical container. There are many variations, but most Multi-Caches have a first stage with a hint to find the second stage, and the second stage has a hint to the third, and so on.
Mystery Caches
A non-Traditional cache type that doesn't fit into the other categories. Coordinates listed on the cache page are often bogus, and the final coordinates must be solved for through a series of steps or instructions.
Nano
A term used to describe geocaches that are smaller than typical Micro-sized geocaches. Nanos are about the size of a jacket button.
Non-collectible
A status assigned to any trackable item that can be easily grabbed, dropped, discovered, etc. Conversely, collectible trackables are items that people can keep it in their possession, and do not have to physically move it to another geocache. More about trackables here.
Pocket Query (PQ)
A Geocaching Premium feature, a Pocket Query is a custom geocache search that you can create and download on a daily or weekly basis. PQs give you the ability to filter your searches so you only receive information on the caches you want to search for in either a GPX or LOC format. This feature lets you download up to 1,000 caches at a time.
Power Trail
A path with a large number of caches placed within close proximity to each other. Promotes players' ability to easily increase their find count.
Preform
A plastic container similar in appearance to a test tube, but with a threaded neck. Normally formed into containers such as soda bottles by securing them into a mold then injecting them with compressed air. Preforms are durable and water tight, which makes them excellent small geocache containers. "PETling" in German.
Premium Member
Geocaching.com members with a paid Geocaching Premium membership. Premium members can have more features available to them than Basic members.
Puzzle Cache
A type of Mystery Cache involving puzzles to be solved to determine the final coordinates. The puzzle should be solvable from the information provided on the cache page.
Reviewer
Community volunteers from all over the world who review geocaching listings for content and publish cache listings on Geocaching.com. Published geocaches must adhere to Geocache Listing Requirements / Guidelines.
ROT13
Hints for geocaches are encrypted using a simple format where each of the letters are rotated 13 characters up or down in the alphabet.

Decryption Key

A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z

(letter above equals below, and vice versa)

Signal
Signal the Frog is the official mascot of Geocaching.com.
Signature Item
An item unique to a specific geocacher that is left behind in caches to signify that they visited that cache. These often include personal geocoins, tokens, pins, craft items or calling cards.
SL
"Signed Log".
Sock Puppet
A false account used in order to hide the true owner's identity. This is a common Internet term and is not specific to geocaching.
Spoiler
A spoiler is information that can give details away and ruin the experience of something. For example, telling someone the end of a movie before they see it. In geocaching, a spoiler gives away details of a cache location and can ruin the experience of the find.
STF
"Second To Find". The second person to find a geocache after it has been placed.
SWAG
"Stuff We All Get." Trade items left in caches by geocachers.
TB
"Travel Bug®". A trackable tag with a unique code that attaches to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here.
TB Hotel
"Travel Bug Hotel". A geocache with the intended purpose of acting as an exchange point for Travel Bugs. These are almost always regular or larger sized containers. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here.
TFTC
"Thanks For The Cache". An acronym written by geocachers in logbooks or online when logging cache finds. Occasionally written as T4TC. Side note: Please take time to write at least a few sentences when you log your find online. This how you say "thank you" to the cache owner for creating and placing the geocache.
TFTH
"Thanks For The Hide". Occasionally written as T4TH.
TNLN
"Took Nothing. Left Nothing". Usually written in geocache logbooks by geocachers who do not trade for material contents in a cache.
TNLNSL / TNSL
"Took Nothing. Left Nothing. Signed Logbook" / "Took Nothing. Signed Logbook".
TOTT
Tools of the Trade. An acronym used for any of the tools that might be used to search for/retrieve/find/log a geocache.
Trackable
A trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here. Also known as Travel Bugs, GeoCoins.
Tracking Number
A unique number associated with a Travel Bug or trackable. Tracking numbers are used as proof that the user physically came in contact with an item. Tracking numbers also double as a way for users to locate the personal web page for a Travel Bug. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here.
Traditional Cache
This is the original geocache type consisting of, at minimum, a container and a logbook or logsheet. Larger containers generally include items for trade. "Nano" or "micro" caches are tiny containers that only hold a logsheet. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page provide the exact location of the geocache.
Travel Bug®
A trackable tag with a unique code that attaches to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. More information about Travel Bugs and trackables can be found here.
Virtual (cache)
A Virtual Cache is about discovering a location rather than a container. The requirements for logging a Virtual Cache vary—you may be required to answer a question about the location, take a picture, complete a task, etc. In any case, you must visit the coordinates before you can post your log. These are still available to find, but no longer available for creation on Geocaching.com.
Watch List
Lists that users maintain to receive notifications regarding specific geocaches and/or trackables. Users receive a copy of each posted log via email.
Waymarking
Waymarking.com offers a way to mark unique locations on the planet and give them a voice. While GPS technology allows us to pinpoint any location on the planet, mark the location, and share it with others, Waymarking is the toolset for categorizing and adding unique information for that location.
Waypoint
A waypoint is a reference point for a physical location on Earth. Waypoints are defined by a set of coordinates that typically include longitude, latitude and sometimes altitude. Every geocache listed on our website is a waypoint. Geocaching.com generates a unique GC Code associated with every geocache listing.
Webcam Cache
A grandfathered cache type using existing web cameras placed by individuals or agencies that monitor various areas like parks or business complexes. The idea is to get yourself in front of the camera to log your visit. You must then use a smartphone or a friend on a computer to look up the website that displays the camera shot. You or your friend will need to save the picture in order to log the cache. These are still available to find, but no longer available for creation on Geocaching.com. New Webcam caches are now in the Web Camera category on Waymarking.com.
WGS84
The most current geodetic datum used for GPS is the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84). The significance of WGS84 comes about because GPS receivers rely on WGS84. Geocaching uses the WGS84 datum by default. We also use the coordinate format HDDD MM.MM, which is a standard for GPS receivers (like the eTrex). HDD means Hemisphere and degrees. MM.MM are minutes in decimal format. It is critical that the format be correct, otherwise geocachers will be unable to find your cache.
Wherigo™ Cache
Wherigo.com is a toolset for creating and playing GPS-enabled adventures in the real world. By integrating a Wherigo experience, called a cartridge, with finding a cache, the geocaching hunt can be an even richer experience. Among other uses, Wherigo allows geocachers to interact with physical and virtual elements such as objects or characters while still finding a physical geocache container. A Wherigo-enabled GPS device or a smartphone running the Wherigo app is required to play a cartridge.

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