Every culture has different ways of conveying similar meanings and develops its own slang terms. Something else entirely branches off from that, which is additional slang terms, acronyms, and methods of saying things specific to something—in this case, walkie-talkies.
If you’ve ever listened to a HAM radio conversation or truckers talking over the CB radio, you know there is almost a secret language among those who share a certain method of communication. These methods are generally separate from normal, social conversations in person or over a smartphone.
The military takes it a step further with its lingo. Much of it involves acronyms (the military absolutely adores the use of acronyms) or various codes, similar to police officers. Then there are regular civilian walkie-talkies and the unique lingo that goes with them.
Walkie-Talkie Lingo – Must Know
When you get into walkie-talkie lingo, it’s almost as if you’re looking at another language. There are a lot of severely truncated sentences, and number-speak culled from police officers and military communications either heard on TV or from friends and family who serve.
- Walkie Check: Used when you first turn on your walkie-talkie—to establish that your walkie-talkie is in good working order.
- 10-4: Okay. Alright.
- What’s your 20? This is used to determine what a person’s location is.
- Eyes on: You letting everyone know that you spotted something, usually something everyone is looking for.
- 10-98: You’re all done. Completed. An assignment is finished.
- On it: Message received and you’re working on it.
- Standby: Putting whomever you are talking to on hold until you return.
- Copy: Your message is received and understood.
- Go for (insert name here): A response to let the calling person know you are on and listening to them.
Some of it is just changes in certain terms, while the rest are shortened variations of things you would normally speak all the way through in a social setting.
15 Common Phrases
Common phrases on a walkie-talkie are often more of what you read above, some number and word combinations, or shortened sentences. Most of them are instantly recognizable and they are shortened for a reason.
Originally, that reason was to communicate quickly and precisely, especially in the case of emergency services or military operations.
Much of what they created spread to the civilian side of things, and here we are.
- Disregard: Ignore the last thing you said
- Wilco: You got their message and it’s understood
- Going off Walkie: You’re done with the walkie-talkie for awhile
- Lock it up: Close up shop and no one is allowed in
- Go again: You didn’t catch their last—please repeat
- Negative: No
- Copy: Understood
- Roger: Understood
- Wilco: Understood (also implies that the message was received)
- Keying: Someone in the conversation is holding down the ‘talk’ button on their walkie-talkie
- Strike: Something should be taken out or removed
- Kill: Turn something off or shut it down
- 10-1: Need to go to the bathroom (number 1)
- 10-2: Need to go to the bathroom (number 2)
- Standing by: Waiting for additional communication
These are all pretty common phrases.
If you get into communication on a walkie-talkie a lot, you will pick these up pretty quickly.
If you’ve ever watched a procedural, police show or have a friend or family member who is a police officer, you’re probably familiar with at least some of the codes out there.
Codes are just quick ways to communicate a whole range of things without speaking for more than a split-second.
- 10-1: Your transmission was garbled or you couldn’t understand them.
- 10-4: The almost universally recognized code for—message received and understood.
- 10-6: Standby—you’re busy right now.
- 10-20: The code variation for asking “what’s your 20?” It’s a request for your current location.
- 10-21: Communicating the fact that they need to call you on the phone instead.
- 10-22: You need to report to (insert name here), in person and not over the phone.
- 10-24: You’re done with your latest assignment.
- 10-25: Asking the other person if they can contact (insert name here).
- 10-26: Disregard whatever it is that you said last or some previous order.
- 10-85: You say “10-85” right before you rattle off your home address.
- 10-91: Indicating that the person on the other end needs to speak nearer to the microphone.
- 10-93: Indicating that you want the other person to check your frequency on the channel you’re currently using.
The codes go beyond this, of course, and there are a lot of them. Most of them come directly from police unit codes so either a police officer or someone with a lot of experience communicating via walkie-talkie will be familiar with them.
If you are new and just starting off learning all the lingo, it’s a good idea to write them all down and put them somewhere immediately accessible. HAM radio enthusiasts use radios that look just like walkie-talkies and essentially are. The only difference is the frequencies used for HAM radio versus publicly available frequencies.
Numbers and Letters
Numbers used in walkie-talkie lingo all belong to the “10 code list, which means every number is preceded by the number 10, such as ‘10-4’ or ‘10-98.’ Letters are used in accordance with the NATO alphabet or very similar variations.
Tips for using walkie-talkies
Mostly, the tips you need to follow when using walkie-talkies revolve around etiquette. The first thing you have to do is learn the lingo because it will be expected of you.
- Always pause before you talk
- Know the NATO alphabet
- Don’t interrupt unless its an emergency
- Talk short and be precise
- ID yourself when you first jump on
- Speak clearly
- Always assume that someone is listening in
- Remember that English is the official, international language for two-way radio communications
Walkie-talkie lingo is not all that hard. Once you pick up on the lingo, the NATO alphabet, and the 10 code numbers, you’ll be good to go. The 10 code numbers are probably the hardest things to learn quickly.
Communicating via walkie-talkie is supposed to be a short, in-and-out way of talking. Keep your voice clear and say what you’re going to say as quickly as possible, using acronyms, codes, and the lingo to the best of your ability.
This is especially true if you are using walkie-talkies in a professional setting. Walkie-talkie lingo is a lot of fun, and once you learn it, you’ll find yourself rattling off a novel’s worth of information quickly and concisely. The more you use it, the better you will get.
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