Essential Guide to Two-Way Radio Communication Lingo

Short-hand expressions and codes are useful for radio communication, especially when you need to transfer information quickly. Remember, it’s important to make sure everyone’s on the same page with which terminology you’re using and what it all means, so make sure all radio users know and understand all the terms in advance. You may decide to just use plain English, or just use a few of these terms instead of all of them – whichever helps your team to communicate effectively.


Roger that = “Message received and understood”

Roger so far = Confirming part way through a long message that you’ve understood the message so far

Affirmative = Yes

Negative = No

Come in = Asking another party to acknowledge they can hear you

Go ahead = I am ready for your message

Say again = Repeat all of your last message

Say all before/after = Repeat all before/after a certain phrase or word if you didn’t catch part of the message

Over = Message finished, inviting others to respond if needed

Out = Conversation is finished, no answer is required or expected

Radio check = What’s my signal strength? Can you hear me?

Read you loud and clear = Your transmission signal is good, I can hear you fine

Wilco = Abbreviation of “I will comply”, means the speaker will complete the task that’s been asked of them

Break, break = Interruption to a transmission to communicate urgently

Emergency, emergency = Distress call, only to be used when there is an imminent danger to life and immediate assistance is required

Stand by = Wait for a short period and I will get back to you

Wait out = Waiting period is longer than I expected, I will get back to you as soon as possible

I spell = The next word will be spelled out using the phonetic alphabet


You may decide to use code words, e.g. “Code blue” for a non-crucial incident, “Code yellow” for a non-dangerous incident that still requires an immediate response, and “Code red” for a dangerous or serious incident that requires an immediate response.


If you work in the security sector, you may use terms like “Cyclone” meaning a violent situation or “Tanto” to request immediate backup. If you are in the marine or aviation industries, you might use “Mayday” if there is a life-threatening emergency.


The phonetic alphabet is internationally recognised and used and if you’ve ever tried to spell something over a radio you’ll understand why – it makes things much simpler.


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


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