CB Radio Code & Lingo: What's Your 20?, 10 Codes, Trucker Talk
If you want to get anywhere on CB, you have to be prepared to talk trucker talk, and that can mean learning a lot of rules of conduct. Learning CB lingo and radio code is a critical first step to effective communication.
The most important rule of conduct when using a CB radio is don’t take up more airtime than you have to on a crowded channel. CB 10-codes and Q-codes give you the power to say a lot in the limited space available. Use them wisely, and you'll not only communicate effectively but you'll also gain the respect of your peers.
Learning a few simple rules will help you figure out how to get your codes in edgewise so you’re making friends and not enemies over the airwaves.
Before we dive in, let’s have a little fun with CB lingo!
Meaning or Translation
|All Locked Up||Closed weigh station.|
|Anteater||The Kenworth T-600 truck has a sloped aerodynamic hood. It is also called an aardvark.|
|Alligator||Also called a "gator", is a piece or pieces of tire on the road that can be dangerous if hit by your vehicle causing damage to hoses, belts, radiators, vehicle body, etc. or to other vehicles if you hit the gator and it bounces up. The pieces can look similar to an alligator, hence the name. Don't let it "bite you"! Small pieces are called baby alligators. Several small pieces are called alligator bait. Sometimes called just a "gator".|
|Back Door||There is something behind you. "Watch out- Smokey's at your back door."|
|Back It Down||Reduce your speed or slow down.|
|Backed Out Of It||If the driver cannot maintain their speed, they might need to downshift. For example, a truck climbing a hill. "Backed out of it. Moving over to the slow lane."|
|Back Row||The back row or rows of parking in a rest area or truck stop, sometimes a hangout for "lot lizards".|
|Bambi||A living or dead deer.|
|Base Station or Unit||A stationary or immobile radio (typically a CB radio or ham radio). For example, a radio placed in a house or building.|
|Bear||A police officer or law enforcement officer.|
|Bear Bait||A speeding vehicle that hides or protects other speeding vehicles when following it.|
|Bear Bite||A speeding ticket.|
|Bear Den or Bear Cave||Police station or other law enforcement headquarters.|
|Bear In The Air||A law enforcement aircraft. These aircraft can be used for traffic control and other things such as checking speed radar.|
|Bear In The Bushes||
A police officer or other law enforcement officer is hiding out of view, likely trying to catch speeding traffic with their radar gun.
|Billy Big Rigger||A trucker who brags about themselves or their truck. Also known as "supertrucker".|
|Bedbugger||Household moving company.|
|Big R||A Roadway truck.|
|Big Road||The Interstate or large highway.|
|Big Truck||18 wheeler or semi tractor trailer truck.|
|Bird Dog||A radar/laser detector.|
|Big Word||Before the exit for a weight station, there is a bright lighted sign that says "OPEN" or "CLOSED". Sometimes it is difficult to read the sign from a distance, however, "CLOSED" is a bigger/longer word. If you hear someone say "big word is out", they are communicating that the station is closed.|
|Black Eye||A vehicle headlight out. "Driver has a black eye".|
|Bobtail||A semi tractor without a trailer.|
|Boogie||Highest gear or top gear of the vehicle transmission.|
|Brake Check||There is traffic congestion ahead where you will need to slow down or come to a stop.|
|Break||To appropriately access a busy radio channel, say "break" and the channel number, then begin talking.|
|Breaking Up||The radio signal is cutting in and out, is weak, or fading.|
|Brush Your Teeth And Comb Your Hair||A law enforcement vehicle is radaring vehicles.|
|Bubba||Something you can call other drivers in a jokingly way.|
|Bull Dog||A Mack truck.|
|Bull Frog||An ABF truck.|
|Bull Hauler||A livestock or cow hauler.|
|Bumper Sticker||A vehicle that is tailgating another vehicle. Also called a "hitchhiker".|
|Bundled Out||A vehicle that is fully or over loaded or is at maximum capacity.|
|Buster Brown||UPS truck / driver.|
|Cabbage||A steep hill grade in Oregon.|
|Cabover||Cab Over the Engine (COE) tractor.|
|Cash Register||A tollbooth.|
|Checking Ground Pressure||The weigh station scales are open. Also known as "running you across".|
|Chicken Coop||A weigh station. Sometimes simply called "the coop".|
|Chicken Lights||Extra lights on a truck and/or trailer.|
|Chicken Hauler or Chicken Truck||Can be referring to a tractor hauling chickens or to a fancy or deluxe truck (with lights and chrome for example).|
|Comedian||The median that separates opposing traffic. This could be paved, include trees/shrubs, are divider.|
|Container||An overseas container.|
|Come-a-part Engine||A Cummins engine.|
|Come Back||If you couldn't hear the last transmission or want the other driver to talk, you can ask for a comeback.|
|Come On||Communicating with a driver that you hear him calling and want them to talk. "Yeah driver, come on".|
|Comic Book||The log book.|
|Commercial Company||A prostitute.|
|Convoy||A group of vehicles traveling together.|
|Copy||The radio transmission is acknowledged or understood. "Copy that".|
|Cornflake||Consolidated Freightways truck.|
|County Mountie||County police or deputy.|
|Covered wagon||Trailer with sidewalls and tarp.|
|Crotch rocket||A fast motorcycle.|
|Deadhead||Pulling an empty trailer.|
|Diesel Car||A semi-tractor.|
|Diesel Cop||Commercial Vehicle enforcement officer.|
|Donkey||Behind you. "Smokey on your donkey".|
|Do What?||Didn't hear and/or understand you. Please repeat your transmission.|
|Double Nickel||55 mph.|
|Drawing Lines||Completing a log book|
|Driver||You might be called "driver" if other drivers do not know your CB handle.|
|Driving Award||A speeding ticket.|
|Dragon Wagon||A tow truck.|
|Dragonfly||A vehicle with no or little power. For example, a truck going uphill.|
|Dry Box or Dry Van||An unrefrigerated freight trailer.|
|18 Wheeler||A tractor trailer.|
|85th Street||Interstate 85.|
|Evil Knievel||A motorcycle cop.|
|Eyeball||To see something.|
|Feeding The Bears||Paying a ticket.|
|Fingerprint||Unloading a trailer yourself.|
|Flip-Flop||A U-turn or return trip.|
|FM||An AM/FM radio.|
|42||Yes, or OK.|
|Four-Letter Word||Nobody wants to stop at the weigh station- that is why "OPEN" is considered a four-letter word in the trucking industry. When the weigh station is open.|
|Four Wheeler||Any passenger vehicle with four wheels.|
|Freight Shaker||A Freightliner truck.|
|Front Door||In front of you.|
|Full-Grown Bear||State Trooper / Highway Patrol.|
|Garbage Hauler||Farm produce trailer load such as vegatables or fruit or a produce hauler.|
|Gear Jammer||Someone who speeds up and slows down frequently.|
|General Mess of Crap||A GMC truck|
|Georgia Overdrive||Putting it into neutral on a downgrade.|
|Go-Go Juice||Diesel fuel.|
|Good Buddy||"10-4, good buddy" was a popular way to say "OK, good friend" back in the day. Things can change over time - we've heard that it could also mean you are referring to them as a homosexual.|
|Good Neighbor||If you want to show appreciation to someone else. "Thanks, good neighbor".|
|Got My Nightgown On||A driver is in their sleeper and is getting ready to go to sleep.|
|Go To Company||Asking another company driver to go to the company's designated channel to communicate or discuss company business or other matters without monopolizing a particular channel.|
|Go To The Harley||Go to Channel 1.|
|Got Your Ears On?||Are you listening?|
|Gouge On It||Peddle to the metal! They want you to go fast.|
|Granny Lane||The slower lane on a highway or Interstate.|
|Greasy||The road is icy or slippery.|
|Greasy Side Up||A vehicle that is unsidedown.|
|Grossed Out||The gross vehicle weight is maxed out, (typically at 80,000 lbs.) or the vehicle is at maximum capacity.|
|Ground Pressure||The truck weight according to the weigh station scale. "They are testing your ground pressure".|
|Gumball Machine||Patrol car lights.|
|Hammer Down||Peddle to the metal. Go fast!|
|Hammer Lane||The fast lane or passing lane.|
|Hand||Term for a helper or fellow worker.|
|Handle (CB Handle)||"What is your CB Handle?" They are asking you what your CB nickname is. Although not required, they are encouraged and can be fun too! CB World offers a CB handle name generator- check it out. You can choose your own CB handle too - select a nickname that might descripe your character or something you are well-known for.|
|Happy Happy||Happy New Year! "Wishing you a happy happy!"|
|Having "Shutter Trouble"||Having difficulty keeping your eyes open or staying awake.|
|Ho Chi Minh Trail||California Highway 152. This highway has lots of accidents.|
|Holler||Call me. "Give me a holler later."|
|Home 20||A driver's home location.|
|Hood||Conventional tractor, not a cab-over.|
|Hundred Dollar Lane, High Dollar Lane||Describing a traffic lane where trucks are prohibited from driving on- there can be very high fines for trucks driving in these prohibited lanes (typically the far left lane).|
|Jackpot||Patrol car lights.|
|Key Down||Talking over someone who is also trying to transmit. Powerful radios can drown out a less powerful radio.|
|Key Up||Transmitting on your CB radio using the transmit button on your microphone. "Key up your mic."|
|In My Back Pocket||A location that you've passed. "It's already in my back pocket."|
|In The Big Hole||Transmission is in the highest gear or top gear.|
|K-Whopper||Kenworth (KW) tractor.|
|Kojak With A Kodak||Law enforcement officer is checking radar with a radar gun.|
|Land Line||A stationary telephone with a land line hookup- not a cellphone.|
|Large Car||A big truck that oftentimes has a sleeper and additional chrome, lights and/or other accessories.|
|Left Coast||The West Coast.|
|Local Information||If you need directions for an area you aren't familiar with, ask for "local information".|
|Local Yokel||An officer from a small town, small county, or small city.|
|Lollipop||The road reflector poles or marker poles with reflectors, often on the side or median of the highway.|
|Lot Lizard||A prostitute that seeks out truckers as potential customers at a rest area or truck stop.|
|Lumper||Someone that will help load/unload trailers typically wanting cash in return.|
|Male Buffalo||A male prostitute.|
|Mama Bear||Female law enforcement officer.|
|Mash Your Motor||Pedal to the metal! They want you to go fast!|
|Meat Wagon||An ambulance.|
|Merry Merry||Merry Christmas.|
|Motion Lotion||Diesel fuel.|
|Moving On||Heading down the road.|
|Mud Duck||A weak radio signal.|
|Negatory||Negative or no.|
|95th Street||Interstate 95.|
|On The Side||On standby.|
|Parking Lot||An auto transporter.|
|Pay The Water Bill||Going to the bathroom.|
|Pickle Park||A rest area where lot lizards can frequently be found.|
|Pigtail||Tractor to trailer electrical connection.|
|Plain Wrapper||An unmarked police car. "Watch your back door, there's a plain red wrapper knockin."|
|Plenty of Protection||This is a toss up - it could mean that there are lots of law enforcement vehicles around or it could be drivers telling you to go ahead and speed because other vehicles are speeding ahead of you offering protection.|
|Pogo Stick||A flexible support holding the electrical connections to the tractor catwalk|
|Power up||Accelerate, drive faster.|
|Preeshaydit||I appreciate it.|
|Pumpkin||Refers to a Schneider truck, due to it's orange color.|
|Radio||A CB radio.|
|Radio check||How does my radio sound?|
|Rambo||Someone that is talking real tough on the radio, often when no one can identify them or their location due to the anonymity of CB radio|
|Ratchet jaw||A person that talks for long periods of time staying keyed up so no one else gets a chance to chime in.|
|Reading the mail||Listening to a radio without saying anything.|
Often refers to a refrigerated trailer used to transport temperature sensitive cargo
A truck that is between two other trucks.
A feature on either the microphone or radio that causes a beep sound when the microphone is un-keyed.
|Roller skate||A small car.|
Large, deluxe, possibly custom truck; a tractor featuring a lot of chrome and lighting.
Weigh station is active, often moving quickly.
A maintenance vehicle that pours sand or salt on roadways in the winter months.
Another way to describe when someone is listing to the radio but is not talking on the radio.
An escape ramp using sand to slow down vehicles.
Orange traffic cones in construction zones.
Describes either the driver or passenger of a four-wheeler
|Sesame Street||Channel 19 on CB.|
California, sometimes specific to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
|Shiny side up||
Safe travels; drive safe; keeping the vehicle upright.
|Shooting you in the back||
A warning that there is law enforcement using a radar gun.
A small amount of time.
Out of service due to the Department of Transit issuing a violation.
|Sleeper creeper||A prostitute; also known as a lot lizard.|
|Smokin' scooter||Law enforcement officer patrolling on a motorcycle.|
|Smokin' the brakes||The trailer brakes are smoking from heavy use down a steep slope.|
|Smokey or Smokey Bear||law enforcement; often highway patrol.|
|Split||where the road splits off into different directions.|
|Spy in the sky||Law enforcement aircraft.|
|Stand on it||Speed up; accelerate.|
|Swinging||The vehicle is transporting swinging meat.|
|Taking pictures||A warning that law enforcement is using a radar gun ahead.|
|Thermos bottle||A tanker trailer.|
|Through the woods||Exiting the Interstate to travel on secondary roads.|
Putting chains on the tires
|Too many eggs in the basket||Overweight load.|
|Toothpicks||A load of lumber.|
|Travel agent||A dispatcher; sometimes a broker.|
|Triple digits||Over 100 mph.|
|TYA||"Tune Your Antenna"- you radio signal is weak and transmission is bad.|
|A Volvo-White tractor.|
|Walked on you||Talked over you by transmitting at the same time.|
|Wally world||A nickname for Wal-Mart. Could be referencing the store, distribution center, or a truck.|
|West Coast turnarounds||The use of illegal drugs or pills to stay awake for long periods of time allowing for quick cross country trips. This is illegal and not advised.|
|Wiggle wagons||Refers to the trailers when a truck is pulling two or three trailers.|
|Yard||A company terminal.|
|Yardstick||A mile marker located on the highway.|
Cledus Maggard's Rundown of CB Lingo
Jay Huguely, the man behind Cledus Maggard & the Citizen's Band, was an interesting man. Outside of dabbling in recording and songwriting, he was an stage actor, advertising and television executive who built his reputation in the 1970s. In this video, he brings humor to commonly used CB Radio Lingo.
Get a Grip on 10 Codes Used in CB Lingo & Radio Code
The Most Commonly Used 10 Codes
When getting started, remember at least the following 10 codes:
- 10-1 Receiving Poorly
- 10-4 Ok, Message Received
- 10-7 Out of Service, Leaving Air (you're going off the air)
- 10-8 In Service, subject to call (you're back on the air)
- 10-9 Repeat Message
- 10-10 Transmission Completed, Standing By (you'll be listening)
- 10-20 "What's your location?" or "My location is..." Commonly asked as "What's your 20?"
And maybe also this code... 10-100 Need to go to Bathroom. Also, remember that the code 10-4 only means "message received". If you want to say "yes", use "affirmative". For "no", use "negative" or “negatory”.
The Complete List of CB 10 codes
- 10-1 Receiving Poorly
- 10-2 Receiving Well
- 10-3 Stop Transmitting
- 10-4 Ok, Message Received
- 10-5 Relay Message
- 10-6 Busy, Stand By
- 10-7 Out of Service, Leaving Air
- 10-8 In Service, subject to call
- 10-9 Repeat Message
- 10-10 Transmission Completed, Standing By
- 10-11 Talking too Rapidly
- 10-12 Visitors Present
- 10-13 Advise weather/road conditions
- 10-16 Make Pickup at...
- 10-17 Urgent Business
- 10-18 Anything for us?
- 10-19 Nothing for you, return to base
- 10-20 My Location is ......... or What's your Location?
- 10-21 Call by Telephone
- 10-22 Report in Person to _____
- 10-23 Stand by
- 10-24 Completed last assignment
- 10-25 Can you Contact ______
- 10-26 Disregard Last Information/Cancel Last Message/Ignore
- 10-27 I am moving to Channel ___
- 10-28 Identify your station
- 10-29 Time is up for contact
- 10-30 Does not conform to FCC Rules
- 10-32 I will give you a radio check
- 10-33 Emergency Traffic at this station
- 10-34 Trouble at this station, help needed
- 10-35 Confidential Information
- 10-36 Correct Time is _____
- 10-38 Ambulance needed at _____
- 10-39 Your message delivered
- 10-41 Please tune to channel ___
- 10-42 Traffic Accident at _____
- 10-43 Traffic tie-up at _____
- 10-44 I have a message for you (or ____)
- 10-45 All units within range please report
- 10-50 Break Channel
- 10-62 Unable to copy, use phone
- 10-62sl unable to copy on AM, use Sideband Lower (not an official code)
- 10-62su unable to copy on AM, use Sideband Upper (not an official code)
- 10-65 Awaiting your next message/assignment
- 10-67 All units comply
- 10-70 Fire at _____
- 10-73 Speed Trap at _____
- 10-75 You are causing interference
- 10-77 Negative Contact
- 10-84 My telephone number is ____
- 10-85 My address is _____
- 10-91 Talk closer to the Mike
- 10-92 Your transmitter is out of adjustment
- 10-93 Check my frequency on this channel
- 10-94 Please give me a long count
- 10-95 Transmit dead carrier for 5 sec.
- 10-99 Mission completed, all units secure
- 10-100 Need to go to Bathroom
- 10-200 Police needed at _____
10 codes originated in the USA and are CB radio lingo mostly used in English-speaking countries. However, no matter which codes are used in your country, be aware that there are local dialects in every urban area and region. You have to listen to others to learn the phrases and codes in your area. And not everyone knows or uses 10-codes, so be prepared for some people to not understand you.
Be aware that the use of codes specifically to obscure the meaning of a transmission is probably illegal in most countries. The difference is this codes which are well known and make communications shorter or more efficient are normally allowed.
Familiarize Yourself with Q codes Used in CB Radio Code & Lingo
Some of the More Common Q Codes
Q codes are used in many kinds of radio communications, including CB sideband but not typically on CB AM. (If your radio doesn't have sideband, don't worry about Q codes.) Q codes originated with amateur radio but their use in CB radio lingo varies even more than 10-codes.
The following is an abbreviated list of Q codes borrowed from amateur radio:
- QRM man made noise, adjacent channel interference
- QRN static noise
- QRO increase power
- QRP reduce power
- QRT shut down, clear
- QSL confirmation, often refers to confirmation cards exchanged by hams
- QSO conversation
- QSX standing by on the side
- QSY move to another frequency
- QTH address, location
The following is from a list of Q codes used by the X-Ray Club (a sideband-users club headquartered in Paradise, California):
- QRL Busy, Stand By
- QRM Man Made Interference
- QRT Stop Transmit or Shutting Down (same as 10-7 on AM)
- QRX Stop Transmit or Standing By
- QRZ Who Is Calling?
- QS Receiving Well
- QSB Receiving Poorly
- QSK I have something to Say or Station breaking QSM Repeat Message
- QSO Radio Contact
- QSP Relay Message
- QSX Standing By (same as 10-10 on AM)
- QSY Changing Frequency
- QTH My Location is _____ or What's your location? QTR Correct Time
Q codes may be used to ask questions (QTH?) or to answer them (QTH is 5th and Ivy Streets.)
The ARRL Handbook and the ARRL operating guides have more complete listings of those used for amateur radio. (ARRL is an amateur radio organization.) Historically, the Q signals were instituted at the 'World Administrative Radio Conference' (WARC) in 1912. Because of their international origin, Q codes may be more accepted outside English-speaking countries than 10-codes are.
Some Tips for Communicating with Others on a CB Radio
The following is a list that is generally considered proper procedure or polite when using a CB radio. It can also be considered a beginner's survival guide. This list was compiled from common problems that have plagued beginners since CB radios first became popular.
Conduct on the radio is guided by two principles: respect for users and respect for the CB channel.
Other users are people trying to use the CB channel just like you, and the only reason any of us is able to do so is because we all respect one another. The CB channel is a shared limited resource. When it’s not being used, you have more leeway to use more. When the CB channel’s in demand, you have to yield it to others.
When two people are talking, essentially they temporarily "own" the CB channel.
US FCC regulations say that they have to give other people opportunities to use the CB channel if they're going to use it more than several minutes. But it is not up to an outsider to "take" the CB channel from them.
Take care not to "step on" other units (i.e. transmitting at the same time as they are, thereby making both your transmissions unreadable.)
This usually means that you should adjust your break squelch level so that you can hear the other unit and then only begin to transmit when you can't hear anyone else.
NEVER deliberately key over someone else.
Nobody likes that.
If you hear one unit break for another unit, give some time for the unit to respond before you say anything yourself.
Keep in mind that they may have to fumble for a CB microphone in a moving car or dodge furniture en route to a base station. Remember, the calling unit has the CB channel.
If you want to talk on a CB channel that is in use, it is very likely that your initial transmissions will accidentally "walk over" someone else's.
So you must keep them short. The word "break" is generally accepted as both a request for the CB channel and an apology for stepping on others. Try to time it in a pause in the conversation.
Even when your "break" has been recognized, keep your next transmission short.
For example, "Break one-seven for Godzilla" if you're on Channel 17 and looking for someone whose handle is Godzilla. If Godzilla doesn't answer in a reasonably short amount of time, it doesn't hurt to say "thanks for the break" to the units that stopped their conversation for you and give them permission to resume their conversation.
If you break on an open (unused) CB channel, you don't have to be as brief.
For example, "Break 17 for Godzilla. Are you out there Godzilla?" However, the short form is perfectly acceptable, too. Use what fits your style.
If someone speaking to you gets "walked over" so that you can't understand the message, you basically have two options.
You can tell the person you were listening to, "10-9, you were stepped on", or you can find out what the breaker wants, "Go ahead break", before returning to your original conversation. You should eventually recognize the breaker and find out what they want. If two people are talking and you would like to interject a response, you will probably just walk over someone. Use the procedure above to properly break into the conversation.
What should you do if someone doesn't answer your breaks after two or three attempts?
Stop and wait for several minutes or, in mobile units, for several highway miles or city blocks. Others may have their radios on and don't want to listen to the same break more than three times in succession.
In unforseen circumstances, improvise.
Take into account other people's points of view. Give people proper access to the CB channel and try not to do anything to annoy other units.
If you make a mistake in any of the procedures above, don't waste air time on a busy CB channel by apologizing.
If the CB channel isn't busy, it's your choice. Just try to do it right in the future. Everyone takes a little time to learn.
CB Radio Code & Lingo in Review
These codes and basic rules will give you a good head start on using the radio properly, but there are many subtleties that can’t be explained here. CB is a vibrant community with more than a century of rich history. The only way to learn about it is to participate, so get out there and do it. You’ll find that you’re an old hand at this after just a little while.
And once you’ve become an old hand, if you hear a novice on the CB channel making mistakes, don’t try to enforce any rules. You don’t have any authority, and trying to pretend that you do just takes up precious air time. Be patient, and remember when you were a novice and what that felt like. Be helpful and welcome them to the party, because that’s what CB is: a giant party that anyone and everyone can join. And everyone has a better time when we all follow the rules.