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Radio Communication Jargon And Meanings

NATO Phonetic Alphabet
Samyak Lalit | March 2, 2012 (Last update: September 23, 2017)

Samyak Lalit is an Indian author and disability rights activist. He is the principal author and founder of projects like TechWelkin, WeCapable, Viklangta, Kavita Kosh among many others.

You must have seen in action movies how armed forces communicate using radio and wireless (walky-talky) sets. Mostly they speak English, but some of the words of radio lingo are mystery for common man. For example, roger is an oft-repeated word on radio conversation. In simple English it means “understood” or “I got it”. Let’s get to know more of two-way radio jargon and their meanings.

Following list shows meanings of the words and phrases often used during a two way radio communication. You may also want to read about etiquette of radio communication.

Radio Jargon
  • Mayday: I need help
  • Roger: Message has been fully received and understood
  • Wilco: “Will comply” (i.e. I/we will carry out the orders)
  • Read: Often used as a question; as in “do you read me?”… the speaker is asking if the other party is able to listen to the radio clearly.
  • Copy: Meaning is same as that of read.. used as “do you copy?”
  • Check/Copy that: Message is understood
  • Read back: Repeat this message back to me
  • Correction: I made a mistake. Correct version is…
  • 20: Location… (for example “what is your 20?”)
  • Acknowledge: Confirm that you understand my message
  • Confirm: My version is… Is that correct?
  • That is correct: Yes, I do confirm
  • Words twice: Send every phrase twice
  • Stand-by: Wait
  • Obtain: Get
  • Affirmative: Yes
  • Negative: No
  • Dispatch: Send
  • Unable: Can’t
  • Over: I have finished saying
  • Out: Call is being terminated
  • Say again: Repeat what you said
  • (silence): I have nothing to say
NATO Phonetic Alphabet

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – India
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu

So, how was it? It is real fun to learn all this. Would you try to use this radio jargon in your daily life?! Do let me know if you will and also about your experience.


18 responses to “Radio Communication Jargon And Meanings”

  1. Daz says:

    working on trains it was not acceptab;e and dangerous in fact to respond with copy that ,or roger. The message being transmitted required the receiver to repeat the entire message verbatim to acknowledge that the message was in fact heard and understood.
    It boggles my mind how replying with “copy that” confirms, understanding ?

  2. Timothy James BAILEY says:

    ‘listening, out’ – means my transceiver is still ON, and I’m listening.
    A common response to a network check message, IIRCorrectly since the 1970s!!!!!

  3. Carla says:

    Someone asked me “why do they say ‘Roger that’ in American movies, when pilots talk on the radio”?
    I answered “Roger means ‘I understood’ – “Roger that” is a joke, meaning I understood that.
    I hope I got that right. I will also be sending them this page url.
    Thank you!
    Over and Out!

  4. Bobby says:

    New to frs/gmrs radio, ..with much yet to discover. Thanks for the assistance.

    • R Woodland says:

      I listen in to port radio on VHF ch 12. I hear large vessels such as cruise ships and cargo ships call out what sounds like, “Curcertai, curcertai, curcetai” dropping lines, getting underway, all concerned vessels monitor Marine channel 12 for information.
      I assume the three time repeated unknown word that sounds like “cue-sir-tay” is essential meaning, “attention, attention, attention”.
      What is that exact word and it’s meaning?

      • Jim says:

        securite with a squiggle over the second 2. An advisory broadcast. they say “securitay” three times giving the mariner a change to put down his coffee or whatever, and then go pay attention to the bulletin.

      • Capn says:

        What you’re hearing is “Sécurité,” which is the lowest of the three attention-getters on marine radio: Sécurité (pronounced “securi-TAY,” meaning attention), Pan-Pan (pronounced “pawn-PAWN” and meaning a very urgent situation), and Mayday, meaning someone’s life is in danger. All should pronounced thrice, at the beginning of an urgent call (e.g. you’ll hear “pan-PAN pan-PAN pan-PAN”).

  5. jim says:


  6. Chris Benetatos says:

    Apollo mission radio recordings often say “We’re go”. What is the term used for when a situation is ‘not go’?
    Thanks for a great resource!

    • Joseph says:

      The more accurate description is the informational interrogative question asking if the individual, using all information currently available, can authoritatively state their opinion as to possibility of mission success as it applies to their area of responsibility.

      Basically, the flight director will poll the individual stations and determine if the launch is ready to go.

      FLIGHT: All stations. Standby for launch status check.
      SURGEON: GO.
      GUIDANCE: NO-GO. We have a fault indicator light on gyro #1

      The military uses something similar when asking your status (are you ready/how are you doing) to which you reply “I/We are Good-to-go”

      The unspoken elements just reduce the question to the fundamental essence by removing superfluous entropy in the language. For instance, the opposite of what I have done here. :)



  8. ray says:

    Very helpful. Thanks for posting these numbers and comm jargon.

  9. Gerry Lawson says:

    I used to work with a Radio Operator from the forces and he always said “Roger D” … whats the significance of adding the D?

  10. Mitchie says:

    I’ve been using two-way radio before and even had a copy of the jargon which i misplaced & couldn’t find it anymore. So happy to have it again through TECHWELKIN…THANK YOU!!!

  11. Jaimie says:

    also, something else I found that could also be helpful to those using a Citizen Band (CB) ten-codes.

    CB ten codes

    10-1 Receiving poorly
    10-2 Receiving well
    10-3 Stop transmitting
    10-4 OK, message received
    10-5 Please relay message
    10-6 Busy, please stand by
    10-7 Out of service, and signing off
    10-8 In service, and taking calls
    10-9 Please repeat message
    10-10 Transmission complete, standing by
    10-11 Talking too fast
    10-12 Visitors present
    10-13 How is the weather?
    10-16 Make pickup at…
    10-17 Urgent business
    10-18 Anything for us?
    10-19 Nothing for you. Return to base
    10-20 Your current location
    10-21 Call by telephone
    10-22 Please report in person
    10-23 Stand by
    10-24 Completed last assignment
    10-25 Can you contact…
    10-26 Disregard last information
    10-27 I am moving to channel…
    10-28 Please identify your station
    10-29 Time is up for contact
    10-30 Does not conform to FCC rules
    10-32 Radio check
    10-33 Emergency traffic at this station
    10-34 Please send help
    10-35 Confidential information
    10-36 The correct time is…
    10-37 Wrecker needed
    10-38 Ambulance needed
    10-39 Your message was delivered
    10-41 Please tune to channel…
    10-42 Traffic accident at…
    10-43 Traffic congestion at…
    10-44 I have a message for you
    10-45 All units within range please report
    10-50 Break channel
    10-60 What is next message number?
    10-62 Unable to copy, please use phone
    10-63 Net directed to…
    10-64 Net clear
    10-65 Awaiting your next message or assignment
    10-67 All units comply
    10-70 Fire at…
    10-71 Proceed with transmission in sequence
    10-73 Speed trap at…
    10-75 You are causing interference
    10-77 Negative contact
    10-81 Reserve hotel room for…
    10-84 My telephone number is…
    10-85 My address is…
    10-89 Radio repairmen needed
    10-90 I have TVI
    10-91 Talk closer to microphone
    10-92 Your radio is out of adjustment
    10-93 Check my frequency on this channel
    10-94 Please give me a long count
    10-95 Please transmit dead carrier for 5 seconds
    10-99 Mission completed. All units secured
    10-100 Restroom stop
    10-200 Police needed at…

    • ColeRayDirectioner says:

      I remember using 10-4, 10-20, and 10-100 when I spent a summer doing door-to-door book sales, and I should have realized that there were actually 100 ten codes but I just? Never thought about it?

  12. Jaimie says:

    Very helpful! I am a receptionist at a school, and I am covering at the bus garage. Thank you for allowing me not to look like a fool by not knowing the jargon.

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