Ham Radio Slang

Ham Radio Slang

Like most other hobbies and technical fields, ham radio has its own slang which often makes no sense to those not familiar with it.

For example, I work in the oil industry and one day I saw a new secretary very sadly typing. When asked why she was on the verge of tears, she said she was typing the sadest news she had ever seen. It turns out it was something to the effect that they moved a drilling rig and buried a dead man. After laughing, I explained that the "dead man" is part of a drilling rig - no one died.

For those who may not be familiar, here is a list of some ham jargon, slang, or what ever you want to call it. I hope it clarifies some things. If you have any suggestions for other terms not listed, please send them to Walt Fair, W5ALT.

73 - Best wishes
88 - Hugs and kisses
Boat anchor - Old, usually BIG, radio equipment
Brick - A small, solid-state amplifier
Bug - A semi-automatic Morse code key
Bureau - A clearinghouse for QSL cards
Cans - Headphones
Chirp - A Morse signal with a varying tone
Clear - "I'm finshed on the frequency, anyone else can use it"
Cloud warmer - An inefficient antenna that radiates straight up
DX - Talking to stations very far away
DXpedition - A trip to a (usually) remote place to operate ham radio
Elmer - An experienced ham helping a newcomer
Hollow state - Tube equipment
Homebrew - Home made equipment
Lid - An inconsiderate operator
Magic Band - The 6 meter band (50-54 MHz)
OM, Old man - Any male ham (regardless of age), husband
Out - "I'm turning off my radio", but NEVER use "Over and Out"
Over - "It's your turn to talk, I'm listening"
Pile-up - Lots of stations calling one station at the same time
Pond - The Altantic Ocean
Pound brass - Operate using Morse code
Rag chew - Shooting the breeze, just chatting
Reading the mail - Listening without transmitting
Rig - Ham radio equipment
Rock - a quartz crystal used for frequency control
Rock bound - Transmitter using crystals. Instead of tuning, you change crystals
Sideswiper - A type of Morse code key that moves side-to-side
SK, Silent key - When referring to a ham, it means they died
Tail gating - Transmitting quickly after another transmission
Ticket - Amateur radio lisence
Top band - The 160 meter band (1.8-2.0 MHz)
Wallpaper - Awards and certificates
Work - Make contact with. Example: "I worked W5ALT on 10 meters"
XYL - Wife (Ex-Young Lady)
YL, Young lady - Any female ham, regardless of age