Over and Out! How to Understand Walkie Talkie Lingo Like a Pro

walkie talkie lingo
Boy playing with a walkie talkie on a street in a playground with a toy walkie Talkie radio, baby outdoors, soft focus

Remember that happy moment when you or a friend would get a walkie-talkie set for a birthday or a holiday? You’d run around the neighborhood playing spies or talking from room to room.

Although walkie talkies are most likely to be used in industries like security, hospitality, and construction, you can still have fun learning walkie-talkie lingo and using it with your friends. Let’s take a deep dive into the history of funny walkie talkie lingo!

History of Walkie-Talkies:

Walkie-TalkiesThe invention of the walkie-talkie is a little murky. The US government, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, and many other individuals all had created some version of the walkie-talkie.

One person, Donald L. Hings, might be the true father of the handheld radio as we know it. His version of the walkie-talkie was in use around 1937.

Use of walkie-talkies exploded in WWII. They brought a whole new way to communicate on the battlefield.

To make communication simpler, codes and shorthand phrases were invented. Here’s where walkie talkie codes come in.

Ten Codes:

One of the most common calls on walkie-talkies are the ten codes. The first 10 codes showed up in the early 1900s and were refined for use by police officers in the 1930s.

These are the most common ones still in use today:

  • 10-1 – Have a bad reception
  • 10-4 – Understood/Got it
  • 10-20 – Your location (Can be used to ask someone what their location is – “what’s your 20?”)
  • 10-27 – Moving to another channel

There are many more 10 codes, but these are the ones that are in regular rotation. Every 10 code isn’t standard in all regions unfortunately because they vary greatly.

The Phonetic Alphabet:

Even if you’re wearing headphones, sometimes it can be difficult to hear what’s being said on walkie-talkies and handheld radios if there’s a connection issue. That’s where the phonetic alphabet comes in handy.

If you need to spell something out, you can use the phonetic alphabet to make sure you’re understood. For example, to spell the word “Hi” using the phonetic alphabet, you would say “Hotel, India”.

Here’s the entire standard phonetic alphabet:

  • Alpha
  • Bravo
  • Charlie
  • Delta
  • Echo
  • Foxtrot
  • Golf
  • Hotel
  • India
  • Juliet
  • Kilo
  • Lima
  • Mike
  • November
  • Oscar
  • Papa
  • Quebec
  • Romeo
  • Sierra
  • Tango
  • Uniform
  • Victor
  • Whiskey
  • X-ray
  • Yankee
  • Zulu

Once you master these, you’ll sound like a pro when using a walkie-talkie or any of the best handheld ham radios.

Regular Walkie Talkie Lingo:

These are so common, you’ve probably used them before. How many do you recognize?

  • Wilco: Short for “will comply”, means you will do what’s been asked of you
  • Mayday: Serious emergency, need help. Don’t use this frivolously!
  • Roger: Understood
  • Over: Finished sentence
  • Out: Finished transmission
  • Over and Out: This conversation is over

These are fun phrases to use in everyday life. Modify them for the modern world and use them in texts with friends!

More Gadgets:

Learning walkie talkie lingo is fun and useful. Each of these phrases has an interesting history but still, work in the modern world.

Want to learn about other cool gadgets and the latest tech on the market? Check out our technology blog for the latest news!

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