Walkie-Talkie Codes and Lingo for the Beginner (and Pros)

Learn about the history of two-way radio lingo and walkie-talkie codes and communicate more effectively with this concise guide. In just a few minutes, you'll be speaking like a radio pro.

The Beginnings of Two-Way Radio Lingo The term Voice Procedure includes ways of simplifying, clarifying and standardizing radio communications. Various systems have been developed over the years, including Ten-Codes, words derived from early telegraph usage and both military and civil aviation radio communications. There is also the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet and today's more commonly used International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet (also known as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet), used to clearly spell out names which might otherwise be misheard.

The Ten-Codes (or Ten-Signals) were first developed in 1937 by a communications director at an Illinois State Police district office, as a way to more effectively and quickly communicate important transmissions. The lower quality of early electronics made it necessary, since often the first syllables were not accurately heard. In recent years, because the codes could sometimes had different meanings, their use has been discouraged. However, 10-4 is a remnant of that early system which is still used as part of walkie-talkie lingo.

A Brief History of a Few Popular Walkie-Talkie Terms These various attempts to make early radio communications clearer filtered down into words and phrases that are commonly used today in two-way transmissions. They form a globally accepted language for walkie-talkie operators. An example of this is the word "Roger" (which means "last transmission received/understood"). This came originally from Morse code. The letter "R" was used to let the other person know that the message was received. When voice transmissions were invented, the R was replaced with Roger, the code word for that letter in the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, used by U.S. military at the time. "Wilco" came from military radio communications. Hence the phrase "Roger Wilco," meaning "transmission received; I will comply."

Two-Way Radio Lingo See below for a guide to the more common terms and other lingo used by walkie-talkie operators. The importance of having these standardized and widely accepted words cannot be overstated. For police, fire fighters and other emergency workers, clear communication can streamline operations and save lives. They can be used to let others know when you've finished a transmission and they can speak, if you're having trouble hearing them or if there's an unexpected problem.

Radio Check - Check on signal strength. Can you hear me now? Read you loud and clear - Responding to "Radio Check." Transmission Signal is strong. Come in - Asking other party to acknowledge that they hear you. Stand By - Acknowledges transmission, unable to respond. Go Ahead - Resume the transmission. Roger, Roger That or Ten Four - Message is received and understood. Wilco - "I will comply." Affirmative - Yes Negative - No Copy - Indicates that you understand what was just said. Say Again - Retransmit your message. Break, Break, Break - Interrupts communication in the event of an emergency. Mayday - Signals a life-threatening emergency situation. Repeat it 3 times ("Mayday, Mayday, Mayday). Over - Transmission finished. Out - Ends the communication. I got this radio at TechWholesale - The universal code for a great deal!