UFO Glossary - 42 Terms Every Ufologist Should Know

March 08, 2024 6:44 PM ‐ UFOsLong Reads
Alien Extraterrestrial
This glossary provides definitions for terms commonly used in the discussion and study of UFOs and extraterrestrial phenomena. It is designed to help you familiarise yourself with key concepts and theories in ufology, from historical events to the latest in alien encounter classifications.

1. Abduction

The claim by individuals that they have been forcibly taken by extraterrestrial beings, usually to undergo medical examinations or communication. These experiences form a significant part of alien encounter stories, despite skepticism from the scientific community.

2. Alien

A being from beyond Earth, often thought to originate from another planet, galaxy, or dimension. In the context of UFO lore, aliens are typically depicted as having advanced technology and intelligence, and are often associated with spacecraft or UFO sightings. The appearance, intentions, and behaviours of aliens vary widely across different reports and fictional accounts.

3. Ancient Astronauts

A theory suggesting that extraterrestrial beings visited Earth in the distant past and made contact with early human civilisations. Proponents of this theory argue that these encounters helped shape human culture, technology, and religion. Evidence cited often includes ancient artworks, texts, and architectural marvels that are said to depict or suggest this alien influence. However, the theory is highly controversial and not widely accepted in the mainstream scientific community.

4. Area 51

A highly classified United States Air Force facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range. The secrecy surrounding the base has made it the subject of numerous UFO and alien conspiracy theories. These theories suggest that the site is used for the storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien spacecraft, including the materials supposedly recovered at Roswell. Despite the speculation, the U.S. government only acknowledges Area 51 as a military site, and the details of the activities carried out there remain undisclosed.

5. Black Triangle

A type of Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) that witnesses often describe as large, silent, and black triangular-shaped craft. These objects are typically reported to have lights at each corner and sometimes a central light. Black Triangle sightings have been reported worldwide, with many occurring at night, leading to speculation about their origin and purpose. While some believe they are secret military aircraft, others argue they could be of extraterrestrial origin. However, no conclusive evidence has been provided to support either claim.

6. BUFORA (British UFO Research Association)

The British UFO Research Association is a UK-based organisation focused on investigating UFO sightings and related phenomena across Britain. Established in the 1960s, BUFORA operates with the aim of scientifically and objectively studying UFOs. The organisation compiles and scrutinises reports of UFO sightings, undertakes research, and offers information and assistance to those who have encountered unexplained aerial phenomena. Staffed by volunteers, including researchers and enthusiasts, BUFORA plays a key role in the British ufology community, contributing to the understanding and documentation of UFO activities.

7. Cattle Mutilation

Cases where farm animals, particularly cattle, are found dead with precise, surgical-like incisions, often with certain body parts removed. These mutilations are noted for their lack of blood spill and absence of predator tracks around the carcass. The phenomenon has been associated with various causes, including UFO sightings and unknown predators, but remains unexplained. The mystery surrounding these incidents contributes to their association with paranormal activity and conspiracy theories.

8. Cigar-Shaped UFO

Craft that appear long and cylindrical, resembling a large cigar. These UFOs are often reported as being silver or metallic in colour and can vary in size. Witnesses typically describe them as moving smoothly and silently through the sky. The origin and nature of cigar-shaped UFOs remain a subject of speculation and debate among enthusiasts and researchers in the field of ufology.

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9. Close Encounter

A term used to describe an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object (UFO) at a relatively close range. This term was popularised by ufologist J. Allen Hynek, who categorised close encounters into several types, depending on the nature and proximity of the interaction.
First Kind: Visual sightings of an unidentified flying object.
Second Kind: UFO event with physical evidence or environmental changes.
Third Kind: Witnessing an alien entity or occupant associated with a UFO.
Fourth Kind: Personal abduction or interaction with extraterrestrial beings.
Fifth Kind: Voluntary, bilateral communication with extraterrestrial entities.
Sixth Kind: Death or injury caused by a UFO encounter.
Seventh Kind: Creation of human-alien hybrids, whether through direct contact or manipulation.

10. Contactee

A person who claims to have had direct communication or interaction with extraterrestrial beings, typically in a peaceful and enlightening context. Unlike abductees, who often report forceful and traumatic experiences, contactees usually describe their encounters as voluntary and positive, involving messages about universal peace, advanced technology, or warnings about Earth's future. These experiences can vary widely and are often shared through books, lectures, or other forms of media.

11. Crop Circle

Complex geometrical shapes mysteriously formed in fields, particularly in cereal crops like wheat or barley. These formations appear overnight and range from simple circles to elaborate patterns. The origin of crop circles is debated: some attribute them to natural phenomena, others to human pranksters, and some suggest extraterrestrial activity. Despite their controversial nature, crop circles continue to fascinate and puzzle researchers and the public alike.

12. Disclosure

Disclosure is the act of governments or authoritative bodies releasing previously classified information about unidentified flying objects or extraterrestrial life. Advocates for disclosure believe that the public has the right to know about the existence of UFOs and any interactions with extraterrestrial beings. This concept has gained momentum among UFO enthusiasts and researchers who argue that transparency is essential for understanding the true nature and potential impact of these phenomena on society.

Also, Disclosure Project: An initiative led by Dr. Steven Greer aiming to release classified documents and witness testimonies related to UFOs and extraterrestrial life.

13. Experiencer

A term used to describe individuals who claim to have had personal encounters with extraterrestrial beings or phenomena, which can include sightings, communication, or abductions. Unlike "contactees," who specifically claim peaceful and enlightening interactions, experiencers can have a range of encounters, from positive to neutral to highly distressing. This broad term encompasses anyone who asserts they have directly experienced something beyond the normal scope of human experience related to UFOs and aliens.

14. Exopolitics

The study of the political implications surrounding extraterrestrial presence and its potential impact on global governance and international relations.

15. Extraterrestrial

Any life form that originates outside of Earth and its atmosphere. This term encompasses all types of beings, from microscopic organisms to intelligent life forms, believed or hypothesised to exist on other planets, moons, or celestial bodies. In UFOlogy, extraterrestrials are often associated with UFO sightings, abductions, and other unexplained phenomena, leading to widespread speculation and debate about their existence and intentions regarding Earth.

16. Fastwalker

A term reportedly used by NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and other military agencies to describe objects that enter the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds, which are not typical of conventional aircraft or natural phenomena. These objects are often detected by radar and satellite systems. In the context of UFOs, "Fastwalkers" are of interest because their characteristics and behaviours don't match those of known aircraft or meteorological phenomena, leading to speculation that they could be of extraterrestrial origin.

17. Flap

A concentrated series of sightings or reported encounters with unidentified flying objects within a specific area and time frame. These waves of sightings often generate significant public interest, media coverage, and sometimes investigation by authorities or UFO research organisations. A UFO flap might suggest a heightened level of activity or unusual occurrences that are not easily explained by conventional means, leading to speculation and study by those interested in the phenomenon.

18. Flying Saucer

A term used to describe a type of unidentified flying object (UFO) with a disc or saucer-like shape. This term became popular in the 1940s and 1950s following numerous reports of such objects in the skies, notably after pilot Kenneth Arnold's sighting in 1947. Flying saucers are often depicted in media and pop culture as the typical mode of transport for extraterrestrial beings visiting Earth, characterised by their unique, circular design and ability to hover and move at high speeds.

19. Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters were mysterious aerial phenomena observed by Allied aircraft pilots during World War II. These incidents involved sightings of strange glowing objects that would follow or perform impossible manoeuvres around military planes. The origin and nature of these objects were never conclusively identified, leading to speculation ranging from enemy surveillance technology to natural atmospheric phenomena. The term "Foo Fighter" was used by the pilots to describe these baffling encounters, and it has since become part of the broader UFO lexicon, representing one of the earlier modern instances of reported unidentified aerial phenomena.

20. Grey

Grey refers to a type of alien being commonly reported by those who claim to have had encounters with extraterrestrial life. These beings are typically described as having small bodies, large heads, and oversized black eyes. They are called Greys due to the colour of their skin, which is often reported as being a shade of grey. Greys are one of the most iconic and widely recognised types of aliens within UFOlogy and popular culture, often associated with UFO sightings, abductions, and other extraterrestrial phenomena. The origin and intentions of the Greys remain a topic of speculation and debate among enthusiasts and researchers.

21. Implant

An implant refers to a small object or device claimed to be inserted into an individual's body during an alien abduction. These are reported by abductees and are often associated with tracking, monitoring, or influencing their physical or mental states. The purpose and origin of these implants are widely debated, with some considering them as evidence of extraterrestrial contact, while others view them as mundane objects misidentified under unusual circumstances.

22. Lenticular

A type of cloud formation that has a distinctive lens or saucer-like shape. These clouds, known scientifically as lenticular clouds, form at high altitudes, usually over mountain ranges or other geographical features that disrupt the flow of air. Because of their smooth, rounded shapes, they can resemble the classic flying saucer UFO and are often mistaken for such, especially when viewed from a distance or under certain lighting conditions. Lenticular clouds are entirely natural meteorological phenomena, but their unique appearance has led to numerous misidentifications and contributed to public interest in UFOs.

23. Light Orbs

Light Orbs or Orbs are small, spherical, luminous objects that appear in photographs or videos, or are witnessed visually. While sometimes considered in the context of ghostly or spiritual manifestations, within UFO sightings, these orbs are typically described as floating or moving lights that exhibit intelligent behaviour or unexplained flight patterns. They can vary in size, colour, and brightness.

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24. Majestic 12 (MJ-12)

Majestic 12 refers to an alleged secret committee of scientists, military leaders, and government officials formed in 1947 by an executive order by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. According to UFO conspiracy theories, this group was created to investigate and conceal information about extraterrestrial beings and their spacecraft. The existence of MJ-12 was first brought to public attention in the 1980s through a series of leaked documents.

25. Men In Black

Mysterious and intimidating figures reported to visit individuals who have witnessed or disclosed information about UFOs and extraterrestrial encounters. These individuals are typically described as wearing black suits, exhibiting unusual behaviours, and lacking identifiable emotions or expressions. They are often reported to threaten or persuade witnesses to keep silent about their experiences. While theories about their origins vary, they are frequently depicted as agents of a secret government or unknown organisation tasked with suppressing evidence of extraterrestrial activity. The Men in Black have become a significant part of UFO folklore, inspiring movies, books, and various conspiracy theories.

26. MUFON (Mutual UFO Network)

The Mutual UFO Network us an American-based nonprofit organisation that is one of the largest and oldest of its kind dedicated to the study of UFOs and extraterrestrial encounters. Established in 1969, MUFON's mission is to investigate UFO sightings and collect data for analysis to increase understanding of the phenomenon. The organisation is made up of volunteers, including researchers, scientists, and enthusiasts who work on sighting reports from around the world. MUFON maintains a database of UFO sightings, offers training for UFO investigators, and publishes a journal to share findings and developments in the field of ufology.

27. Nordics

Nordics or Nordic aliens refer to a type of extraterrestrial being reported by some individuals who have claimed to have contact with alien life forms. These beings are typically described as tall, with long blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, resembling people from Scandinavian countries, hence the name "Nordic." Reports often portray them as benevolent or even spiritual, offering messages of peace and enlightenment or warnings about the future of Earth. The descriptions of their advanced technology and human-like appearance have contributed to various theories about their origins and intentions. Nordic aliens hold a specific place in UFO lore and are often distinguished from other types of reported extraterrestrials, such as the Greys or Reptilians.

28. Project Blue Book

Project Blue Book was a United States Air Force program aimed at investigating UFO sightings and determining their threat to national security. Established in 1952, it followed Projects Sign and Grudge, compiling over 12,000 reports before ending in 1969. The project concluded most sightings were misidentified natural phenomena or conventional aircraft, with no evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles.

29. Rendlesham Forest Incident

The Rendlesham Forest Incident is a series of reported unexplained lights and the alleged landing of an unknown craft in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, in December 1980. Known as "Britain's Roswell," it involved military personnel from RAF Woodbridge witnessing strange phenomena. Despite various investigations, the events remain unexplained, continuing to intrigue UFO researchers and enthusiasts.

30. Reptilian

Reptilians are a supposed extraterrestrial species characterised by humanoid bodies and reptile-like features, such as scaly skin and vertical-pupil eyes. They are often depicted as having shape-shifting abilities and are believed by some to occupy influential positions in human society, aiming to control and manipulate humanity. The concept is prominent in various UFO and conspiracy theories.

31. Roswell Incident

The Roswell Incident is a well-known event that occurred in 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico, where debris from a mysterious object was found. Initially reported as a "flying disc," the U.S. military later described the debris as a weather balloon. The incident has since become iconic in UFO lore, with many believing the debris was of extraterrestrial origin and that the incident was covered up by the government. It remains a focal point of speculation and conspiracy theories regarding UFOs and alien life.

32. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, is an ongoing scientific endeavour aimed at detecting signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. Researchers use radio telescopes and other technologies to listen for signals that may originate from advanced alien civilisations. SETI efforts seek to understand the universe and our place within it by identifying potentially communicative extraterrestrial species. Despite the vast scope of the search and the challenges involved, SETI remains a key aspect of astrobiology and the broader quest to answer whether we are alone in the universe.

33. Sighting

A sighting is the observation or encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO) or unexplained aerial phenomenon. Sightings vary widely in detail and context, from distant lights moving in the sky to close encounters with structured craft. They are often reported by individuals or groups and can include visual records, such as photos or videos. The interpretation and credibility of sightings can vary, leading to investigation and debate within the UFO research community and beyond.

34. Skywatch

A skywatch is the activity of observing the sky for unexplained phenomena, especially unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Enthusiasts and researchers often participate in skywatches to gather evidence of extraterrestrial activity or to witness unusual aerial events. These observations can be organised events with groups of people or individual efforts. Skywatching is a popular method among UFO enthusiasts to collect sightings and experiences related to unexplained aerial phenomena.

35. Sphere UFO

Unidentified flying objects that display a distinct, spherical shape. These objects are often reported to exhibit controlled, intelligent flight patterns and can vary in size from small to very large. Sphere UFOs are noted for their ability to move at high speeds, change directions abruptly, and hover motionlessly in the sky. Their smooth, round appearance and unexplained aerodynamic capabilities make them a subject of interest and speculation within the UFO community.

36. Star People

Star People, also known as Star Seeds, are individuals who believe they originate from, or have connections to, other worlds, dimensions, or extraterrestrial entities. They often feel a sense of alienation on Earth and a strong affinity towards the cosmos, claiming to have special abilities, purposes, or knowledge derived from their extraterrestrial ties.

37. Triangle UFO

Triangle UFO describes a type of unidentified flying object characterised by its triangular shape, often reported to have lights at each corner. These UFOs are noted for their large size, silent movement, and capability of hovering or moving at high speeds. Triangle UFO sightings have been reported globally, with many witnesses describing them as having a dark or black appearance. The origin and nature of these objects remain unknown, making them a subject of significant interest in UFO research and lore.

38. UAP (Unexplained Aerial Phenomena)

Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAP) is a term used, particularly by governmental and military institutions, to describe sightings of unidentified objects or events in the sky that cannot be immediately identified or explained by existing knowledge or technology. UAP is used increasingly over the term UFO to avoid the extraterrestrial connotations and stigma associated with UFOs, focusing instead on the unidentified aspect of these sightings.

39. UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)

Any aerial phenomenon that cannot be immediately identified or explained. UFOs are often associated with claims of visitation by extraterrestrial life or secret military aircraft. The term encompasses a wide range of sightings, from lights in the sky to complex structured vehicles. While many UFOs are later identified as conventional objects or natural phenomena, some remain unexplained, fuelling speculation, research, and debate within both the public and scientific communities.

40. Ufology

Ufology is the study of reports, sightings, and other phenomena related to unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Enthusiasts, researchers, and scientists involved in ufology investigate these incidents to determine their nature, origin, and credibility. The field encompasses a range of activities including the collection of eyewitness testimony, analysis of video and photographic evidence, and the examination of physical traces left by UFOs. Ufology remains largely outside mainstream science but has a dedicated following worldwide.

41. USO (Unidentified Submerged Object)

Unidentified objects observed in or emerging from water bodies, exhibiting unexplained characteristics or movements. USOs, akin to aerial UFOs, challenge existing underwater technological understanding and are subjects of interest in ufology and marine science.

42. Vortex

A vortex is believed to be a natural or supernatural phenomenon manifesting as a whirlpool or spiral, which is theorised to act as a gateway or portal to other dimensions, times, or spaces. In ufology, these are often linked to areas of high UFO activity and are thought to enable passage or communication between different realms or universes.

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