How to Talk Like a Trucker

Liven Up Your Conversations with Walkie-Talkie Lingo

Breaker Breaker – As we embark on ChatMap, a walkie-talkie meets friends on a map app, it’s a great time brush up on our trucker talk to make your messages rock the air waves. We’re not going to cover the history of the Citizen Band (CB) radio or 10-codes (think: "10-4 good-buddy"); but in short, 10-codes make common phrases short to free up some of the airwaves.

So here’s the words that make any conversation more delightful and intelligible. Please use with discretion. They may not be appropriate for all occasions, like job interviews, funerals, and religious ceremonies.

Trucker Lingo Definition / Example
Got your ears on? Are you listening
Ex: Joe: "Hey Dave, you got your ears on? I'm looking for -- "
Breaker breaker Politely asking to break into the discussion, like "excuse me"
Dave: "Breaker breaker, I just learned about ChatMap, a new app they got caged up like a herd of buffalo."
10-4 Ok
Joe: "10-4, it sounds greater than a cheese slicer. Is there some sort of beta program so I can get my grubby paws on it?"
What’s your 20? What your location (shortened 10-20 code).
Dave: "What's your 20, I'm in Dago (San Diego). Go sign up for the beta app. If you had ChatMap, you'd never have to ask me about my 20."
On your 6 Behind you - As in 6 o'clock
Joe: "I'm on your 6 BigDave, turn around and I'll show you my app."
Smokey Police officer / highway patrol – Refers to how they wear the same hat as Smokey the Bear
Dave: "Keep your pants on, but this will blow your socks off...ChatMap uses crazy encryption to keep thieves and smokeys away from your transgression transmissions."
Roger that Understood
Joe: "Roger that, it sounds like that humdinger is a big time ringer. Encryption sounds hard to use, no? Is it really secure?"
Negatory / Affirmative No / Yes
Dave: "Negatory on it being hard to use, it's all transparent. And that's a big affirmative on it being secure."
Do you copy? Can you hear me?
Dave: "Do you copy? It went silent."
Copy that I heard you.
Joe: "Copy that, I was just in awe... the security sounds tight. Where do I sign up?"
Put the hammer down Put the pedal to the metal
Dave: "You've got a long way to go and a short time to get there, you better put the hammer down and sign up for that beta program.
10-4 good buddy Ok, that's it for now pal.
Joe. "Roger that, I'm heading there now. 10-4 Good buddy."

And while we are on topic, the following is Nato phonetic alphabet which was designed to make letters reliably intelligible when audio quality may be sub-par. Commit these to memory as they come in handy.

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

You are now armed with expeditious lingo and ready to be a mover and shaker on the airwaves.... and if you are interetsed in taking ChatMap for a stroll, sign up to beta test the app!


By Cary Evans in April 2015


The "Cool Trucker" photo is courtesy of Jeff Parr. It has been cropped and is licensed under creative commons 2.5.