The Ultimate NCIS Glossary

A comprehensive list of common acronyms, sayings, and terms from all three NCIS shows.
Posted on Aug 15, 2016 | 10:00am
Have you ever been watching an episode of NCIS and thought to yourself, "Hey, what does it mean when somebody has to give a SitRep to the SecNav, anyway?" Well, now you don't have to, because we've compiled a handy glossary of common terms and phrases from NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: New Orleans to help you brush up on all your nautical and crime verbiage—and everything in between!
APB - Short for an All Points Bulletin, or a radio message that's sent to every officer in a police force. Typically, these relay details of criminal suspects or stolen vehicles.

BOLO - BOThe Lookout.

Bulkhead - A dividing wall or partition between compartments aboard a ship or aircraft. This compartmentalization is used to reduce flooding of the entire vehicle at once.
Deep Six - A nautical term for six fathoms deep, which is generally considered a sufficient underwater depth to get rid of something—like, oh, maybe a dead body.
Federal Agencies - A broad term used to refer to NCIS, FBI, ATF, NSA, DEA, and literally hundreds of other agencies in the United States government.

FLETC - Short for Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, this interagency body ensures that NCIS (and dozens of other U.S. government agencies) are sent well-trained probies.

Gibbs' Rules - Always listen to your boss, and make sure you know all his rules.
Gunny - Short for Gunnery Sergeant and a nickname for Gibbs, who held the position in the U.S. Marine Corps before he became a Special Agent at NCIS.
The Hill - Short for Capitol Hill, which is the area surrounding the Capitol building in Washington DC. It can also allude to Congress itself.
Intel - Short for intelligence, or information that is of military or political importance.
JAG - Refers to the Judge Advocate General's Corps, or the legal branch/specialty concerned with military justice and military law. It's also the title of the series that preceded NCIS.
Labby - Abby's affectionate name for her laboratory. (Test how well you know Abby Sciuto with this quiz!)
MTAC - Short for Multiple Threat Alert Center—or, as NCIS calls it, Multiple Threat Assessment Center. This group, housed within NCIS, identifies and provides warnings for various threats to the Navy and Marine Corps.


NCIS - Short for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. (Hey, we're just covering our bases here!)
NOLA - One of New Orleans' many nicknames. [Also: Nawlins, The Big Easy, The Crescent City, The City That Care Forgot]
On Your Six - A military phrase meaning "I'm right behind you." The term refers to your physical orientation as a clock, where 12 o'clock is directly in front of you, 3 o'clock is to your right, 6 o'clock is directly behind you, and 9 o'clock is to your left.
OSP - Short for Office of Special Projects, the secondary branch of the main NCIS building in Washington DC, and home base for the NCIS: Los Angeles crew, overseen by Hetty Lange.

Probie - Short for Probational Agent and another word for "rookie." In terms of rank, probies are one step below a full-fledged field agent.
Recon - Short for reconnaissance, which is a military observation strategy used to extract and record information about an enemy.
Rigor Mortis - A medical term from Latin, it's the stiffening of joints and muscles that occurs several hours after death, and typically lasts one to four days. (Also probably the grossest term on this list.)
Roll Tide - A rallying cry for University of Alabama sports, and frequent catchphrase of lifelong UA fan Lasalle.

SCIF - A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility is a secure system to communicate information that's so confidential it can't even be discussed among others with basic security clearances.

Scuttlebutt - Nautical slang for "rumor" or "water cooler gossip."
SecNav - Short for Secretary of the Navy, which is the chief executive officer of the Department of the U.S. Navy. A total of three SecNavs have appeared on NCIS thus far: Phillip Davenport, Clayton Jarvis, and Sarah Porter.
Semper Fidelis - The U.S. Marine Corps motto. Translated from Latin, it means "always faithful" or "always loyal." The adage is said to have originated in Abbeville, France in the 14th century. [Also: Semper Fi]
SitRep - Short for Situation Report, which details a specific event or occurrence.


Squadroom - The main area in the NCIS building in Washington D.C. where the team usually works. [Also: Bullpen]
Squg - While this may sound like a rare type of rodent, it's actually a portmanteau of "squat" and "hug"—as in the kind of hug a standing person squats down to give a sitting person. The term was popularized by Abby Sciuto.
Yankee White - A high-level security clearance issued by the U.S. Department of Defense, the term can also refer to the background check process to obtain it. This also happens to be the title of the very first episode of NCIS.
NCIS begins its 14th season on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 8/7c, followed by the Season 3 premiere of NCIS: New Orleans at 10/9c that same night. NCIS: Los Angeles will have its eighth season premiere on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 8/7c.
Until then, catch up on episodes with CBS All Access.