Sometimes the Survivor banter is like listening to another language. Need a little clarity? At your service. 

Here's a list of terms you may have heard on the show, and what they mean, in simpler terms. 


Alliance: When a group of people join and swear their loyalty to each other. Warning: alliances CAN be broken. Case and point. 

Credit: Scott McAulay

Blindside: When a player is voted out, but they didn't see it coming. Surprise!

Example: "Man, Tony got blindsided real bad last night."

Buff: A strip of stretchy fabric, in tribal colours. Traditionally worn as a bandanna, but competitors have been known to customise their buffs, street-style. (E.g armbands, tube tops etc.)

Credit: Scott McAulay

Castaway: (No, we're not talking about the Tom Hanks movie). This is the official name given to the game's competitors.

Duel: The Redemption Island battle between the two players most recently voted out. The loser of the duel is asked to leave immediately. 

Example: "Hannah showed Dee what was up at that duel."

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Flip: When a competitor sneakily switched their alliance.

Example: "Shady, oops I mean Shay, was pretty quick to flip."

Immunity: The only thing that guarantees a player's safety in the game.

Example: "Shame! You can't vote for me, I have immunity."

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Immunity Idol: A sacred object that is in high demand. It's usually won, or found. Makes the bearer exempt from elimination (as above). 

Jury: A group of players (generally seven). In the final, their vote determines the Sole Survivor. 

Matt Chisholm: The New Zealand Survivor host. Full of beans.

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Merge: A pivotal point in the game. Opposing tribes join together and become one, then the challenges get more personal. 

Example: "I just want to make it to the merge. Then the game is mine, muahaha."

Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: The world-famous Survivor tag line. Basically describes the aim of the game.

Redemption Island: A mysterious location where souls go to die (just kidding). They go there when they get eliminated, to await their duels and their chance to re-enter the game.

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Snake: An unpredictable and/or disloyal competitor. 

Example: "I don't trust her, she's a snake."

Sole Survivor: The official title given to the winner of the series. Quite the honour.

Superfan: A term used to descirbe the hardcore fans. They know the game inside out, they don't miss a trick. They've seen every season, and are actively involved in the Survivor community. (a.k.a Dee)

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Swing Vote: When a player is caught between two opposing alliances, so their vote determines who gets chopped. Ruthless.

Throwing a Challenge: Intentionally losing a challenge, for the greater good. 

Example: "If we throw this challenge, we can make sure such-and-such goes home."

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Tribe: The collective term for the Survivors. (If you don't know this one by now, there's probably no hope for you.)

Tribal Council: The fiery pit where voting and eliminations usually take place. Nobody feels safe here.

Example: I have no idea what will happen at Tribal tonight."

Credit: Scott McAulay