What Does Muggle Mean in Geocaching? Muggles Definition & Etiquette Tips

what does muggle mean in geocaching

For those new to geocaching there can some weird and wonderful terminology and phrasing at play. Most acronyms and sayings are easy enough to get the hang of and will make complete sense once they are explained.

Some are just funny like the word muggles! But what does muggle mean in geocaching, and what does it mean to be muggled?  Let me explain…

Geocaching muggles definition

A muggle in Geocaching is the name used to define an ordinary member of the public. Geocaching muggles are people who don’t know what geocaches are and don’t understand the rules or even the basics of the game.

Geocachers should always be wary of muggles and try not to attract their attention towards a hidden geocache. When muggles find geocaches, they will often move or steal them, or sometimes even destroy them completely.

Geocaching muggles
Sometimes muggles will find a geocache if it hasn’t been hidden very well.

Most of the time this act of plundering (or vandalism) is done with no ill intent, but purely down to ignorance of what the game of geocaching is.

The word muggle is taken as inspiration from the Harry Potter books and films. In the J.K Rowling book about the young wizard, muggles were defined as being:

“A Muggle a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born in a magical family. Muggles can also be described as people who do not have any magical blood inside them.” (source: Wikipedia)

When you read this definition of a muggle from the Harry Potter books, it can actually relate really well to geocaching. You can imagine how it was first used to describe people unaware of geocaching.

I then found another definition of a muggle in Harry Potter which I think relates even better to geocaching:

“Most Muggles have been unaware that magic and the wizarding world exist since the establishment of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1692.” (source: Fandom)

You can take that statement above and re-write it to make it a fantastic geocaching muggles definition, something like this:

“Most Muggles have been unaware that the magic of the geocaching world exists since the establishment of the GPS Stash Hunt in May 2000.” 

Where May 2000 is when geocaching started according to the history lesson I read on Geocaching.com. 

In simple terms, a muggle in Geocaching is someone who really doesn’t understand the magic and wonder that surrounds them.

When was the word muggles first used in Geocaching?

I used the power of Google to try and find out when the word muggles was first used in the geocaching world. Using the search engine, you can search by year, but it can be misleading unless you know how to discount certain webpages that have been updated through the years.

It took me a while, but the first instance I could find was on April 2nd in 2002 by a forum poster called BigDoggie on the Geocaching.com forums. BigDoggie said:

“Geocachers do seem to be more aware of nature than muggles… but there will always be far more of them than us.”

Here’s a screenshot:

Geocaching muggles definition
This was the first instance of the word muggles I could find on the geocaching.com forums dated April 2, 2002.

But then I found a further post by a forum member called Lyra who said they had come up with a new term to coin ordinary members of the public. This comment was posted in the forums on September 5th, 2002, and said:

“Something’s been bubbling in the back of my mind about that movie since, and a giant exclamation point just appeared over my head when I thought of this. It’s a new Geocaching lingo term… Muggle: any person who has no knowledge of the sport of geocaching and who causes geocachers to become surreptitious about their activities in order to avoid a cache becoming exposed to non-geocachers. (The geocacher found what he knew must be the cache site but waited until the muggles left so they would not see him and possibly plunder the cache).”

It appeared that Lyra believed they were the first to come up with the muggles definition in geocaching, but some other forum posters were quick to correct the situation and explain that someone else has first used the term on February 25th, 2002, and then linked to it.

Unfortunately, the web link to the first use of the word muggles was on an old Groundspeak forum page which no longer exists and isn’t available in the Internet Archive so I cannot find it.

So, whilst it appears that muggles might have been first used in geocaching in February of 2002, the first public online record I can find is in April by the BigDoggie forum user.

Interesting, the words muggle and geomuggle were both then used after that in the forums, before muggle became the more popular expression in the sport. People very rarely use the word geomuggle anymore.

What does it mean when a geocache is muggled?

Muggles will often stumble across geocaches or find them after having their interest piqued by seeing active geocachers in the location.

geocaches gets muggled
Ordinary members of the public can find geocaches and not understand what they are looking at.

When a muggle discovers a geocache and then disturbs, plunders, removes, or vandalizes it, the geocache is said to have been muggled.

Geocaching muggle tips

To the untrained eye, geocaches and geocachers might look a little suspicious. While you’re out searching, keep an out for curious onlookers. If people are nearby, act as nonchalant as possible so they don’t catch on to what you’re doing.

There are also some excellent geocaching muggle tips in this video. It explains how to deal with muggles and make sure they don’t find and disturb caches.

Additional muggle etiquette tips

Here are some additional geocaching etiquette for muggles, such as:

  1. Try to identify the muggles before they identify you!
  2. Try to make sure you don’t draw attention to yourself or the geocache.
  3. If there are too many muggles around, come back later when it’s quieter.
  4. Try to make yourself look as natural as possible.
  5. If a muggle asks what you are doing, be honest with them, and introduce them to the geocaching world and website resources.

Geocaching muggle cards

Some geocachers carry muggle cards around with them. You can buy them online or just make your own, there’s a lot of inspiration online.

All a geocaching muggle card is, is a written and printed explanation of what geocaching is and where you can find more information online. Think of it kind of like a business card.

When approached by a curious muggle, you can give them a muggle card, and let them go and look into it later on. It’s a quick and easy way of putting muggles minds at rest and possibly even introducing a new member to this amazing outdoor sport!

Handy Hint: If you want to get started as a beginner, here’s what you should always take in your geocaching kit bag!

Conclusion

The first day my 7-year-old son and I started up this awesome hobby, I explained to him about muggles and how he had to be extra careful not to be spotted.

He found this hilarious, and actually made the game of geocaching even more exciting for him… he felt like he was a secret agent.

Geoaching is great fun, but it’s not understood by members of the public until they are given a simple overview. In my opinion, the more people who know the better, as this means even more geocaches to find!

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