Reenactment Terminology


Here is a list of commonly used reenactor terminology and what it means.

Booshway – The person in charge at a Frontier Period reenactment.

Buckskinning – Historical reenactment of the dress and lifestyle of a mountain man.

Classical reenactment – Focus on portrayals of the Greco-Roman world, and especially on modern recreations of Roman legions and ancient Greek hoplites.

Dark Ages or Migration Period – Refers to the 5th and 6th centuries. Sometimes also called Völkerwanderung (“wandering of the peoples”).

Early medieval – 7th to 11th centuries.

EBUFU – Stands for “Events By Us and For Us.” These are for progressive “hard-core authentic” reenactors who put on events just for the participation of the reinactors and are not open to the public.

Farbs – Also known as “polyester soldiers“are reenactors who spend relatively little of their time or money maintaining authenticity with regard to uniforms, accessories, or even period behavior.

Clothing inconsistent to the period, fabrics, fasteners (such as velcro), snoods, footwear, vehicles, and modern cigarettes are common issues. Also slang for “Far be it for me to question/criticize.”

High medieval – 12th to 14th centuries.

Historical reenactment – An educational or entertainment activity in which people follow a plan to recreate aspects of a historical event or period. This may be as narrow as a specific moment from a battle, or as broad as an entire period in time.

Hoplites – Citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields.

Late medieval – 15th century.

Living histories – Living histories are meant entirely for education of the public. Such events do not necessarily have a mock battle but instead are aimed at portraying the life, and more importantly the lifestyle, of the average soldier or group of people of the era portryaed. This does include civilian reenacting, a growing trend.

Occasionally, a spy trial is recreated,and a medic too. More common are weapons and cooking demonstrations, song and leisure activities, and lectures.

Living history is the only reenactment permitted on National Park Service land; NPS policy does not allow for battle reenactments (simulated combat with opposing lines and casualties) on NPS property.

Longhunter – an 18th-century explorer and hunter who made expeditions into the American frontier wilderness for as much as six months at a time. Parties of two or three men (and rarely more) usually started their hunts in October and ended toward the end of March or early in April.

Mainstream – Mainstream reenactors make an effort to appear authentic, but may come out of character in the absence of an audience. Visible stitches are likely to be sewn in a period-correct manner, but hidden stitches and undergarments may not be period-appropriate.

Food consumed before an audience is likely to be generally appropriate to the period, but it may not be seasonally and locally appropriate. Modern items are sometimes used “after hours” or in a hidden fashion. The common attitude is to put on a good show, but that accuracy need only go as far as others can see.

Medieval reenactment – Is a form of historical reenactment that focuses on re-enacting European history in the period from the fall of Rome to about the end of the 15th century. The second half of this period is often called the Middle Ages.

Mountain Men – Trappers and explorers who roamed the North American Rocky Mountains from about 1810 through the 1860s (with a peak population in the early 1840s).

Peace bond – A very visible lock or tie on a realistic looking weapon to make clear to security and to police that it is not intended to be used for violent purposes.

The peace bond will usually come in the form of a zip tie over the trigger fastened in such a way that it couldn’t be pulled, or holding a bladed weapon in the sheath.

Period – Refers to the era of the event being portrayed. The period of an event affects the types of costume, weapons, and armour used.

Playtrons – A combination of the words “patron” and “player”, meaning patrons of a Renaissance Faire who rent costumes of Renaissance Lords and Ladies, peasants, pirates, belly dancers, or fantasy characters at the faire just to join in the fun.

These people are amateurs who probaly don’t know all the nuances of the period they are trying to portray, and don’t really care if they get it right.

Progressives – At the other extreme from farbs are “hard-core authentics.” Sometimes derisively called “stitch counters.” Hard-core reenactors generally value thorough research, and sometimes deride mainstream reenactors for perpetuating inaccurate “reenactorisms.”

They generally seek an immersive reenacting experience, trying to live, as much as possible, as someone of the period might have done.

This includes eating seasonally and regionally appropriate food, sewing inside seams and undergarments in a period-appropriate manner, and staying in character throughout an event, even when not observed by the public.

Public demonstrations – Are smaller mock battles put on by reenacting organizations and/or private parties primarily to show the public how people in the 1860s lived, and to show the public how battles were fought in a particular era. The battles are only loosely based on actual battles, if at all, and may consist of demonstrations of basic tactics and maneuvering techniques.

Reenactors – The participants in a reenactment. Most participants are amateurs who pursue history as a hobby. Participants within this hobby are extremely diverse. The ages of participants range from young children whose parents bring them along to events, to the elderly.

Renaissance Faire – Medieval period participants who generally borrow from a range of history and often incorporate fantasy or Hollywood-inspired elements into a presentation for public entertainment.

Scripted battles – Are reenactment in the strictest sense; the battles are planned out beforehand so that the companies and regiments make the same actions that were taken in the original battles.

They are often fought at or near the original battle ground or at a place very similar to the original.

Tactical battles – May or may not be open to the public, and are fought like real battles with each side devising strategies and tactics to defeat their opponent(s).

They have no script, a basic set of agreed-upon rules (physical boundaries, time limit, victory conditions, etc.), and onsite judges or referees, and so could be considered a form of live action role-playing game.

Taking a hit – Reenactor terminology for the act of being killed or wounded in a battle. It is typically left up to the individual’s discretion, although greatly influenced by the events of the battle. Because most battles are based on their historical counterparts it is generally understood when to begin taking hits and to what extent.

Total immersion events – Are made up solely of progressive (“hard-core authentic”) reenactors. These events are held for the personal edification of the reenactors involved, allowing them to spend an extended time marching, eating, and generally living like actual soldiers of the Civil War.

Total immersion events generally require participants to meet a high standard of authenticity, and in most cases little or none of the event will be open to public viewing.