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Can you keep up with the lingo?


Have you ever noticed that people who metal detect seem to have their own unique language?

I was swinging a bottle cap magnet, working a transect when I got a slammin signal. Oh boy was it a screamer! I cut the plug and found a toasted Indian. It was a fattie with friends. I pulled out my pocket probe for assistance. Found a wheatie and a stinking Lincoln in the hole too. Yes, a trifecta! Just happy I didn't get skunked!


In my opinion, slang is one of the hardest aspects of a language to understand. Slang is a subset of a language often used by one particular group of people. It seems that people who metal detect have their own vocabulary, only known among them. The words may be entirely invented terms or abbreviations or distortions of existing words. People who don't metal detect or are new to the hobby most likely wouldn't have a clue what we're talking about. When you first start detecting you begin to learn these various slang words. Sometimes it feels like having to learn a second language. You won't find any of these terms listed in a traditional dictionary. And to make it all that more challenging to understand, some of the terms actually have multiple meanings. There really is no set lingo. In many cases, the meaning of the slang word really all just depends on who is using the term. I have included a list below of some of the terms I have heard used or seen on various metal detecting forums, along with what I believe their definitions to be.


Dictionary Metal Detecting Terminology


Awesome Sauce: More awesome than awesome.


Beaver Tail: The tail of a pull-tab separated from the ring usually sounds the same as a nickel or a gold ring. "What if it's not another beaver tail?"


Black Dirt: Organically-rich dirt.


Bobby Dazzler: Something extraordinary, definitely not common, a one-of-a-kind amazing find. "Would ya look at that? Just look at that bobby dazzler!"


Bottlecap Magnet: A metal detector that indicates bottle caps as a good signal such as coins.


Bottom Feeder: Someone who profits from things cast off or left over by others. Phrases commonly used by bottom feeders: "Once he leaves that area over there, lets go hit it up." "Hey, look at all the iron they just left sitting there, on that rock, for me."


Bucketlister: A once in a lifetime kind of item that you would love to find before you die.

Canslaw: Shreds of an aluminum can that are left behind, after a can was run over by a lawn mower.

Cartwheel: A large sized coin, generally a silver dollar. " Those cartwheel's are awful hard to find." Cellar Hole: The remains of a very old home site that had a basement. Sometimes lined with stones and sometimes just a depression in the ground. "I found the cellar hole, I found the cellar hole!"


Chatter: The sound a detector makes when when running with high sensitivity. A sort of static.

Cherry Picking: The action or practice of digging only the high tones. "I can't believe he cherry picked all the targets"


Choppy: The sound a detector makes when it finds an object that is almost completely discriminated out. "That's one choppy signal."


Clad: Modern coins which have been formulated with mostly non-precious metals.

Coinball: A chunk of dirt with a coin inside. "I'm gonna pop this coinball."


Coinshooters: A metal detector enthusiast who looks mainly for coins.


Copper: Referring to a US large cent or colonial equivalent.


Crusty: A term used to describe a target that is in rough shape.

EMI: Electromagnetic Interference


Falsing: This occurs when a metal detector gives a detection response to electrical noise, ground noise, or bumping.


Fattie: A thick Indian Head Cent minted between 1859 and 1864. "It's a fattie."

Friends: When there are additional good targets in a single hole. "Look, it has friends."


GL: Good luck!


Grand Slam: When you find four of the same denomination coins all from different eras, in the same hunt.

Gravy: A very nice target that is in the bottom of the plug. " Got me some gravy"

Gridding: When you purposely walking in a pattern while detecting, a small area of land, with the intent to cover the entire area and leave behind a minimal number of good targets.


Halo: An area immediately surrounding a target where the metal has leeched. This occurs when a metal object has been in the ground for many years.


Heartbeat: An exceptional find! The term is a popular favorite in the Lake George region of New York state. "Now that's a heartbeat if I ever saw one."


Heartbreaker: A high quality coin or artifact that is found, but has something majorly wrong with it.


HH: Happy hunting


Honey Hole: A spot that produces good finds hunt, after hunt, after hunt. "Stay out of my honey hole!"


Hot Rock: A rock which contains a higher concentration of non-conductive ground minerals than the surrounding area to which the detector is balanced.

Iffy: A signal that is difficult to interpret, but hints of a good target. "It's an iffy one."


Indian or IHP: A US Indian Head Cent (1859-1909)

Iron Mask: This refers to operating a metal detector with iron masked or discriminated out.


Junk: Unwanted ferrous or non-ferrous metal targets.

Keeper: A good metal detecting find. "It's a keeper!"


Key / Semi-key: A coin of low mintage numbers that has higher value.


Leavitright: A piece of buried junk generally quite large in size. The term is derived from the phrase "leave er right there".


Merc: The US Mercury Dime (1916-1945)

Nicked: A coin or object has been hit or damaged by your digging tool.

Nighthawk: Someone who detects illegally at night.


Nulling / Nulling out: When the metal detector threshold disappears, usually due to a large quantity of iron.


On Edge: A coin that is buried in the ground oriented up and down, rather than laying flat or parallel with the surface. It's literally on it's edge.


Overload: When there is too much metal under the coil for the machine to be useful. "I overloaded on that large can."


Pirate: A dishonest person who engages in shady acts, such as stealing a permission or going back to one of your spots without you and bringing his mates.


Plug: A hole that is carefully dug in the ground so that the dirt and grass are not harmed.

Pocket Spill: A bunch of coins lost from someone's pocket or purse.


Pocket Probe: AKA a pin pointer. A handheld tool used to pinpoint the location of metal targets.


Pounded Site: A site that has been detected a thousand times. "That sites been pounded harder than a square nail."


Rosie: A silver US Rosevelt dime (1946-1964)

RUBAR: Rusted beyond all recognition.


Sat Down: When you find a Seated half dime, dime, or quarter. "Sat down in a cornfield today."


Seated: A US coin minted between 1837 and 1891 in half dime, dime, quarter and half dollar denominations.

Screamer: A super high quality signal that is loud in the headphones. "It's a screamer."


Seeded hunt: A hunt where the the finds have been scattered or planted in the ground.

Shottie: Shotgun Shells. "Nothing but shotties, today."


Skunked: Hunting and finding absolutely nothing of value. “I got skunked.”


Smoothie: A coin that is highly worn. It can often be difficult to make out the details on it. "That's one slick smoothie."


Squeaker: A high tone signal that sounds like a squeak. "Dig that squeaker."


Stinking Lincoln: A US one cent coin with the Lincoln memorial on it's back side. "Not another Stinkin Lincoln."

Stood Up: When you find a Standing Liberty Quarter. "I got stood up today."


Test Garden: A plot which has a bunch of targets intentionally buried by someone. Test gardens are often used to test out new metal detectors.

TH'ing: Treasure Hunting


Toasty / Toasted: A coin that is badly corroded from spending a long period of time in the ground. " That's one toasty copper."


Tot Lot: An area of a park designated for very young children. "I'm headed to the tot lot on Monday morning."

Transect: The term is used to describe a linear lane that someone would detect within a broader grid.


Trifecta: When you find three of the same denomination coins all from different eras, in the same hunt.


Turd: A not so great find, better than junk but sadly it still stinks. "Who left these turds on my kitchen counter?"


UMO: Unidentified Metal Object

VDI: Visual Display Indicator

Walker: US Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916-1947)


Whatzit: An unknown object of curiosity. " I finally found a whatzit."


Wheatie: US wheat cent (1909-1958)


Zincoln: A zinc-formulated US Lincoln Cent.

There are times it can be difficult to understand some of the crazy terms people seem to use within this hobby. I hope you found this helpful or at the very least a little comical. I certainly enjoyed learning all these terms. If you know of any metal detecting slang terms that are not included on this list, please leave a comment below. Include the term and it's definition. I would love to learn more. Thanks and as always HH!

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