Beginner’s Guide to Geocaching Acronyms

When we started geocaching, I was constantly googling to see what another acronym meant.  When I read the Activity log in the geocaching app, I would have to stop and check what something meant. GZ, FTF, TFTC, CO, P&G, SL. WHAT?!? So what do all those geocaching acronyms mean? IDK: I don’t know! This is a beginner’s guide to geocaching acronyms.

Every hobby has its own lingo. Every sport has its own vocabulary. Geocaching is no different.

In order to successfully find and log geocaches, you have to know some basic terms. So here goes:

Common geocaching acronyms

Some geocaching acronyms are commonly found in the cache Description.

P&G stands for park and grab. This is an “unofficial term” that usually means the cache is located within a few steps of the parking area. In some cases, the cache may be retrieved, signed, and returned without getting out of the car. A P&G is a quickie, with no walk or hike involved. You may also see it written as PNG or P-n-G. Some geocachers look down on P&G’s as too easy, but it just depends on what you enjoy.

TOTT stands for tool of the trade. This may show up in the description of a cache alerting all that special retrieval tools are necessary to get the cache in hand. It may be phrased as “TOTT required” or “special tool required”. They are not obligated to tell you what tool is needed; they just alert you to the fact that you will need to bring your bag of tools. It may be something as simple as a magnet or a tweezers.

BYOP means bring your own pen. A cache labelled as a micro is too small to hold a pen so the owner is alerting you to bring your own to sign the log.

FTF is first to find. The first geocacher to find and log a cache is the FTF. You will often see the FTF named at the bottom of the description of the cache.

STF is simply the second to find the cache. The FTF shouldn’t get all the glory, right?

TB means travel bug which is a trackable tag with a unique code that can be attached to it. The trackable is then carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world, and its progress can be followed on

CO is the cache owner, the person who placed the geocache in the first place and is responsible for maintaining it. Each cache has basic information including Placed by (CO) and the date it was placed.

Some geocaching acronyms are commonly found in the cache Activity logs.

GZ means ground zero.This means you have arrived at the GPS coordinates and are close to the cache. Put away your GPS and start looking!

TFTC means thanks for the cache. You will frequently see this in the Activity logs for a cache. TFTC or its equivalents, T4TC or TFTH (thanks for the hide) is a quick and easy way to log a find. Alone, it isn’t  great, but if you add a couple of sentences, it makes the log more interesting and informative. Remember, the log is the record of the caches you have found. Other geocachers also read it when they are searching, and the CO (cache owner) views it for information on his cache.

SL, signed log, is a quick way to say you signed the paper log when you found the cache. I have seen this when a group is geocaching together and they sign the log as a group. If the paper log is tiny, you may see signed log as…and a set of initials. For example, when we don’t have much room, we sign as MRM which is short for MrMrsMcGoo.

SWAG sounds like a word in itself, but in goecaching terms it means stuff we all get. Many caches contain small items that are available for trade. You will commonly see small toys, pencils, bookmarks and other items mostly of interest to children. My grandson carries little plastic dinosaurs to exchange. Jerry and I TNLN...see below.

TNLN means took nothing, left nothing. If you chose not to exchange trinkets, SWAG, you may include TNLN in the details of the log. There are several variations of this including TNLNSL which is just a combination of TNLN and SL: took nothing, left nothing, signed log.

DNF is how you log a cache you did not find. It is disappointing to log DNF’s, but part of the game. Read my post about logging DNF’s.

This is a summary of the common geocaching acronyms we have encountered. There are more. I could make up a whole series of them based on our geocaching experience.

Peggy’s geocaching acronyms

FMWB means I forgot my water bottle.

FMBS stands for forgot my bug spray, an absolute essential with gnats and mosquitoes in the Midwest.

FMT means I forgot my tools. Tweezers and a pen are the two tools we don’t leave home without. Unless we forget.

FDITD stands for fell down in the ditch. I have fallen down in a ditch on several occasions. On my face. On my fanny. I hope this never happens to you, but f it does, feel free to use my acronym FDITD. I am willing to share.

DBLP which means, my husband says, don’t be like Peggy. Meaning, bring your water bottle, bug spray, tools of the trade and, above all, don’t fall down in the ditch! Other than that, you can be like Peggy all you want.

You can read about one of my falls here.


Geocaching acronyms are one of the TOTT (tools of the trade). You have to be able to understand and use the basic tools to be a successful geocacher. When you are already out searching for a hidden cache; you don’t want to be at a loss understanding the clues in the cache Description and Activity logs. In my experience, the learning curve is NOT steep. By the time you log your first 20 or so finds, I predict you will have the lingo down pat. Till then, refer to my list above whenever you encounter a geocaching acronym that has you stumped. TTFN! (Ta ta for now!)

Did I miss any? What acronyms have you seen?

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My name is Peggy McGranahan and I started this blog, Shaped By The Waves, to share my experiences and life lessons as I navigate the waves of change in my middle-aged life. I love reading, chocolate, geocaching with my hubby, and Jesus. I am actively battling my weight, and sometimes I win the battle! Now that all 5 of our homeschooled chicks have left home, my nest may be empty but my life is full. So welcome to Shaped By The Waves. Come ride the waves of change with me.