Cigar 101: Wtf Are These Cigar Acronyms And Terms? – By Mike Holmes

For this months cigar 101 topic I really had to think hard on what I wanted to write about. I know I put a feeler out for ideas, unfortunately I decided not to use them! Sorry folks. Instead I got an excellent idea for a very informative article. It seems like weekly, I see this question posed on social media by various people who are either new to the cigar culture or just old heads confused about acronyms and other cigar slang words that are often used online. So without further hesitation, I will begin to answer the Question, WTF are these acronyms and terms? I will also define for you what they mean! 

What is a herf?

This is the most asked question that I hear. I spend a lot of time in local cigar shops where some of the patrons aren’t big into social media many of them simply don’t use this word in their vocabulary. 

A herf is simply a gathering of cigar smokers. I have seen several different stories about the origin of the word herf, but the explanation that I will go with will be from the members of a cigar newsgroup alt.smokers.cigars (the OGs of cigar forums from the 90’s). They actually coined the phrase. These cigar smokers were around on message boards and forums way prior to what we know today as social media. From the word’s inception on these forums it became the word to use when describing hanging out with a group of Cigar Smokers… having a herf! Also coined was the phrase Vherf which is short for “virtual herf ” which is when you smoke a cigar with someone over video chat or some other virtual connection. 


This is the second most asked question which is, what does PSSITA mean? Well we know that it doesn’t mean “Put Some Sausage In The Ass” or “Pour Some Semen In The Alley”, which are typical smart ass comments posted when asked this question (all in good fun). Actually PSSITA means “Put Some Smoke In The Air“. This acronym is typically used when making a post to social media and is just a general phrase that is used to signify that you are relaxing and smoking a Cigar. So now that you know let’s PSSITA! 


These 2 acronyms are used to describe male and female cigar smokers as either Brother of the Leaf or Sister of the Leaf. There are actually cigar clubs with the same names but the terms have become popular and have been used to describe male and female cigar smokers. All cigar smokers are a brotherhood and sisterhood so what better way to address someone than to say “Hey BOTL” or “Hey SOTL”. 

Shit stick, Dog rocket, Turd

These terms are used to describe a cigar that is simply not a good cigar. It could be the way the cigar is burning or the flavors you are getting from the cigar. A lot of times, cigar smokers use these terms a little too loosely, it is important to remember that everyone has different tastes! So someone’s dog rocket might just be someone else’s favorite cigar!  So be kind to your fellow BOTL or SOTL and just PSSITA!


You might have seen this acronym on various social media sites. ISO is simply short for “In Search Of.” You use it when you are looking to hunt down a specific cigar or cigar related item. 


When people are in search of a specific cigar it usually means that it is a HTF or “Hard To Find” Cigar. Usually a limited production cigar or one that simply isn’t in your area. 


This is extremely new to the cigar community because Facebook now bans the sale and trading of cigars, so in order to remain under the radar, if someone sends you what used to be called a “Bomb” (a gift of cigars) you should now use the term RAOK which means “Rational Act Of Kindness”. This helps to remain in good standing with Facebook’s policies and still partake of the cigar lifestyle and generosity we all enjoy.


A unicorn is simply a cigar that is very very rare. Not to be confused with a limited edition cigar. Unicorns are something that you will probably smoke once in your lifetime if you are lucky! 


CC simply stands for “Cuban Cigar” and NC means that it is a “Non Cuban” cigar. 


The acronym B&M is short for Brick and Mortar, which means it is a cigar shop that has a physical location where you can go to buy and smoke cigars. If you have a B&M in your town, I highly recommend you visit it, as they are the backbone of the industry.

What does it mean to retro-hale? 

The act of retro-haling is simply exhaling the cigar smoke through your nose. It is beneficial to retro-hale, it certainly enhances the cigar experience. Your nose is much more sensitive so you will pick up even more notes from the cigar you are smoking. You might be asking yourself how do I retro-hale? All you have to do is push the smoke up into your nasal cavity (do not inhale into your lungs) and then blow the smoke out through your nose. It might take a little while to grasp, but once mastered it will definitely enhance your experience smoking cigars. 

In Conclusion

I felt defining some of these acronyms and terms that we use regularly would be really helpful. New cigar smokers will benefit the most but seasoned smokers who aren’t as social media savvy will also pick up a few pointers. I’m sure I missed a few acronyms and phrases so if you think of any more feel free to leave a comment below this post and let’s discuss! 

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