Orienteering Jargon

Orienteering terms, jargon and definitions

Better Orienteering has tried to keep orienteering jargon to a minimum, but inevitably any sport developes its own useful terms and jargon.

If you are unsure what is meant by any of these terms, then follow the links further down to find several glossaries for more information. The list here is not exhaustive, it just gives a few definitions of some frequently used terms.

Attack point – a firm feature, such as a path junction, that you navigate to before then navigating into a control

Catching feature – a feature you can be sure to find that you use to locate yourself near a control. Sometimes a distinction is made to a Collecting Feature which you find en-route to a control and a Catching Feature which locates you if you miss it by going too far. For simplicity Better Orienteering has kept to just using Catching Feature, since they both are descriptions of effectively the same thing.

Contour – a thin brown line on the map linking land at the same height. Contouring means moving along a slope staying at the same height as though following a contour.

Control – also called Flag, Kite, Marker, Checkpoint. Each control point has to be visited to complete the course.

Dibber – slang name for the small timing device you put into or wave near to the timing box at a control, usually either made by SI or EMIT

Download – When you finish you MUST go to download so that the organisers know you are safely back. You also get a print out of your time.

Gulley – a linear dip in the ground, often shallow, like a large ditch

Niche – smaller than a re-entrant and usually between contours

Over -shooting – running too far and going past the control

Parallel error – running on a parallel or similar feature to the one you believe you are on, such as a parallel path

Re-entrant – a small valley on a slope

Splits – At download and also with the online results of races, you get the times for each leg of the course; e.g. Start to 1, 1 to 2, 2 to 3

The links below should help you find explanations of any terms you are unsure of. Terms and jargon do vary a bit around the world, so several sources are linked to for help.

British Orienteering Jargon

Scottish Orienteering Jargon buster

Quantock Orienteers UK

Chicago Area Orienteering Club

Do contact me with any other suggestions for good glossaries of orienteering terms and jargon, or with any other terms that need including that are not covered by the glossaries listed.