What is SHTF – Meaning, Examples and an extensive Explanation

What does the abbreviation SHTF or S.H.T.F. mean? It is used in the prepper scene and means that a disaster has occurred.

from Martin Gebhardt | Prepping | reading time 1 Min
Updated on 18 April 2023 25.454 views 91% found this guide helpful
What is SHTF – Meaning, Examples and an extensive Explanation

Martin Gebhardt

From Martin Gebhardt. Check out his “About me” page.

Occasionally, I receive emails from people who want to prepare for specific emergency situations.

They surf the web and come across the term SHTF. Then, I get an email like this:

“Hello Martin, I need advice. What does S.H.T.F. mean?”

And that's what this article is for: so that everyone now knows what the abbreviation SHTF means.

Meaning of SHTF

You may have already heard about prepping (What is Prepping?) and stumbled upon the abbreviation "SHTF", right? If you don't know the abbreviation, you're probably wondering what it means.

What does SHTF mean?

SHTF is the English abbreviation for "Shit Hits The Fan". Translated, it means: "Shit hits the fan". "Fan" does not refer to a sports club fan. "Fan" means fan or blower. And when shit hits a fan, you can imagine how such an event looks like. A catastrophe has occurred.

In Germany, people say "The shit is hitting the fan" or simply: disaster. Because that's what the abbreviation means: something has turned for the worse.

When SHTF occurs, it's a catastrophe - such as wars, environmental disasters, blackouts, gas crises, terrorist attacks, EMP attacks, nuclear meltdowns, economic collapses or pandemics. Even invasion by aliens and asteroid impacts pose a threat to some preppers.

An SHTF situation is, for example, a massive flood
An SHTF situation is, for example, a massive flood

The abbreviation S.H.T.F. is particularly common in the context of preppers. This is because preppers extensively prepare for emergency situations - for example, with a Prepper List or a Bug Out Bag.

The examples I'm about to show you will explain this in more detail.

Examples of SHTF

Here are some examples to understand the context of SHTF:

Learn how to choose the right refuge, what options you have to get there, and what equipment you absolutely need when SHTF arrives.

Now that SHTF has occurred, there's no time to panic. Think. It's time to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Who uses SHTF?

Preppers primarily use this term. They use it in the context of the end of the world. People who do prepping also use SHTF as a noun for "the apocalypse".

When SHTF, the apocalypse happens
When SHTF, the apocalypse happens

SHTF also exists as a hashtag (#SHTF) on social media. By using it, you mark your posts and must expect to be associated with the prepper scene.

But keep in mind that the spelled-out sentence is quite vulgar. ;-)

Where does SHTF come from?

According to Dictionary.com, the term has been around since at least 1930. SHTF (Shit hits the fan) has referred to problems (shit) that accumulate and grow (spread) ever since.

Fun fact: The original fan was not just a small stand fan, but an agricultural machine that spread manure on a large scale over the field.


So, SHTF means that the ultimate catastrophe has occurred.

You can now understand and even use the term "SHTF" - when discussing or on social media.

And now for your opinion. What do you think of the abbreviation?

Take care, Martin
Martin Gebhardt

Martin Gebhardt

Hey, I'm Martin. On my blog, you will learn the basics and numerous details about life in the wild. I think survival, bushcraft and the good life in nature are the keys to happiness. Find me here on Instagram or on YouTube. You can find more about my mission on the About Me page.

Was this guide helpful?

52 people found this guide helpful.


4.65 out of 5 points (57 Ratings)