Comprehensive Guide of Walkie-Talkie Essential Phrases, Alphabets, Codes, Lingo, and Terms

Become a walkie-talkie pro with our comprehensive guide to essential phrases, the phonetic alphabet, numeric codes, procedural words, and emergency terms.
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You must have heard police officers or security services use walkie-talkie lingo in movies. It’s okay to wonder if the words are just for aesthetics or if they serve a purpose. The truth is, the terms you have seen in movies are necessary for walkie-talkie communication.

Walkie-talkie phrases, alphabets, codes, and terms enhance efficient communication. Holding talks over the radio needs to be brief, clear, and miscommunication-free. Using walkie-talkie language helps you keep conversations clear. Hence, you can communicate clearly, and efficiently. It is also an essential part of radio etiquette

Walkie-Talkie Common Phrases 

Walkie-talkie lingo may sound silly to you. But, if you have ever used a walkie-talkie, you will understand why they are essential. You could misunderstand or not hear a message fully, especially when talking over great distances. Hence, users must find a way to communicate quickly, clearly, and efficiently.  

These common phrases enable users to send messages without lengthy explanations or risk of miscommunication. Their universality also makes it easy for users worldwide to communicate effectively. 

Common Phrases for Starting a Conversation 

The beginning of your transmission is essential as it will set the tone for your conversation. Some of the commonly used phrases for starting two-way radio communication are: 

Come in, JohnAre you there, “John?”
Go for JohnAcknowledges “John” and indicates you are ready to listen
Go aheadPermits the other person to proceed with their message.
John calling JaneThis is John calling Jane.
Common Phrases for Starting a Conversation

Communication Problem Checks

Communication issues often occur when transmitting over the walkie-talkie. When faced with such problems, try using these phrases: 

Do you copy?/ How copy?Asks for confirmation from the recipient that they heard and understood you.
Walkie checks/ Mic checkAsk the recipient if your radio is working.
Loud and clearConfirms that the other person’s radio is working.
Say again/ Go againRequests the speaker to repeat the last message. It is often used if the message is unclear or not fully understood.
CorrectionIndicates an error in your previous message and provides the correct information
DisregardInstruct the recipient to ignore the last message sent.
Communication Problem Check Phrases

Ending Communication

It is also essential to end simply and clearly. Walkie-talkie phrases help you achieve that. The common ones are: 

OutSignaling that the conversation is over or the speaker doesn’t expect a reply.
OverIndicates that the speaker has finished talking and is waiting for a response from the recipient.
Ending Communication Phrases

Other Phrases

Besides the words listed above, there are other phrases you can generally use over the walkie-talkies: 

ConfirmSeeks verification of the received information
Roger/roger thatAcknowledges that the recipient has received and understood the message.
CopySimilar to “Roger.” Confirms that the recipient has received and understood the message.
Stand byAsks the recipient to wait for a short period, and you will get back to them.
AffirmativeYes – confirms a statement or question.
NegativeNo – denies a statement or question.
WilcoShort for “will comply.” Shows that the speaker will follow the instructions.
BreakTo show that the sender wants to interrupt the ongoing conversation to attend to something urgent.
ETAStands for “estimated time of arrival.” Used to inquire about the time of arrival.
On itSignifies that the receiver understands the request or instruction and is working on it.
What’s your 20?Asks for the receiver’s location.
Flying inSignals that you are sending something the receiver asked for.
Eyes onSpotted something.
Wait outIndicates that the waiting period is longer than expected or indicates that you will call later.
I spellIndicates the speaker is about to spell a word using the phonetic alphabet.
RelayRequests the recipient to pass the message on to another party.
Going off walkieThe speaker can’t talk anymore or will no longer use the radio.
Other Commonly Used Phrases

Walkie-Talkie Phonetic Alphabet

When you spell words, you often find it hard to hear similar-sounding letters. You don’t want to continue saying “Say again” since you must keep conversations brief. Hence, clear communication is crucial when passing on critical information, like names, locations, or codes. 

In such situations, phonetic alphabets are crucial. Each letter in the phonetic alphabet has a representative word. Thus, instead of saying “MARK,” you represent each letter with a unique word. Doing so makes it easier to hear and understand, minimizing miscommunication.  

NATO Phonetic Alphabet 

The NATO phonetic alphabet is the most widely used phonetic alphabet, and it has gained universal acceptance. During the war, clear communication was crucial. Hence, major countries like the U.S. and the U.K. created words to represent letters. 

However, after the war, there was a need for a universal phonetic alphabet. The NATO allies revised the U.S.’s Able Baker alphabets, and by 1956, there was a fully revised version called the NATO phonetic alphabets. Over the years, the military, organizations, aviation, emergency services, radio amateurs, and casual users have adopted it.  

List of Alphabet with Corresponding Words

Phonetic Alphabet List

Tips for Remembering The Phonetic Alphabet

  • Create flashcards for each letter-word pair
  • Practice with a partner by spelling out words using the phonetic alphabet. 
  • Use mnemonic devices, like associating each letter with an image or story. 

Walkie-Talkie Numeric Codes

Numeric codes, precisely the ten codes, were initially created for police communication. In 1937, the development of the APCO (Association of Police Communication Officers) ten codes or signals started. It was designed to reduce speech length because police radio channels were limited. They also enhanced the privacy of information for police officers. 

Charlie Hopper, the communication director for Illinois state police, District 10 in Pesotum, spearheaded the creation of the ten signals. An interesting fact is that the main aim of starting each code with the number 10 was not for uniformity. 

The story behind it is that the radios of those days took time to transmit. As a result, the receiver usually will not understand the first syllable. Hence, the signal starts with ten, so the main code, which is the digits after the 10, will be properly transmitted. 

Unfortunately, different districts have different code meanings. But, the 10-1 to 10-20 codes are standard all over. 

Here’s the list of 10-1 to 10-20 Ten Codes:

10-1Signal weakIndicates that the transmission is unclear or difficult to understand.
10-2Signal goodImplies the message is clear and easy to understand.
10-3Stop transmittingA request for the sender to stop transmission, usually because of interference or an ongoing emergency.
10-4Message received and understoodAcknowledges that you received and understood the message.
10-5RelayInstruct the recipient to pass the message to another party or location.
10-6Station is busyIndicates that the sender is busy but will be available shortly.
10-7Out of serviceSignifies that a unit or individual is unavailable or off-duty.
10-8In-serviceIndicates that a unit or individual is available and ready for assignment.
10-9RepeatA request for the sender to repeat the previous message due to poor reception or misunderstanding.
10-10Transmission completed, standing byImplies that the sender has finished transmitting and is waiting for further instructions.
10-20Advice to locationA request for the sender to provide their current location or position.
List of 10-1 to 10-20 Ten Codes

Walkie-Talkie Emergency Terms

In high-stress situations, clear and concise communication is paramount. Emergency terms help you convey critical information quickly and effectively. 

Most of these emergency signals are typically said three times for clarity. For example, “Mayday Mayday Mayday.” As a walkie-talkie user, you should get to know these terms. They can help save time, resources, and even lives during emergencies.

Distress and Urgency Calls 

There are three distress and urgency calls used, especially in maritime radio. They are: 

MaydayThe most important call. It signals a life-threatening emergency and requests immediate help.
Pan-panThe second most important call. It signifies an urgent situation that is not immediately life-threatening but needs assistance.
SecuriteThe least essential call. The call issues important safety information or warnings to all nearby parties.
Urgency Call Phrases

Other Emergency Terms

SOSIt means Save Our Ship. SOS is a Morse code signal (· · · – – – · · ·) used internationally to show distress and ask for help.
EmergencyIt indicates a critical situation requiring immediate attention.
DistressIt refers to a state of extreme danger. It typically involves a vessel, vehicle, or person needing immediate help.
Other Emergency Phrases

Emergency Procedures

Key steps to follow when initiating an emergency call:

  • Clearly state the emergency term.
  • Provide your call sign or identification. 
  • Specify your location and the nature of the emergency.

Key steps to follow when responding to an emergency call:

  • Acknowledge the call.
  • Gather the necessary information.
  • Help or arrange with relevant parties to offer help.


Learning walkie-talkie language is essential for effective communication in various settings. Besides everyday conversation, they can be beneficial during crises and emergencies. 

Using common phrases, phonetic alphabets, numeric codes, and emergency terms, in general, will help you through your walkie-talkie journey. Remember that practice makes perfect. The more you use the language, the more you master it and become proficient. 

About The Arthur
Picture of Kenny Zhang
I've been running a factory that manufactures two-way radios & their accessories. We want to share some knowledge and news about Walkie-Talkie from the sight of the supplier.

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