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CB Radio Lingo: CB Codes & Their Meaning [Learn CB Slang]

Despite its limitations regarding range and reach, CB radio remains a popular form of communication, particularly among certain groups of users, including most notably, truckers. Because they are on the road so much, truck drivers rely on CB radio communication for real-time traffic updates, local weather conditions, road hazards, and yes, for some companies on those lonely stretches of highway.

As newcomers to the world of CB radio are sure to learn, this mode of communication has such an enthusiastic following that it developed its own lingo. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases “breaker, breaker” or “10-4”. These are just a few examples of CB slang that have developed over the years. 

Truckers are not the only users of CB radio lingo either. Law enforcement and other public agencies also use it to keep radio communication brief and to the point.

Also Read,

Are you new to the CB radio game and want to learn how to talk like a pro? Buckle up, crank up the volume, and keep reading.

CB Radio Lingo: Getting Started

At first blush, CB radio lingo is a jumbled mix of familiar words and meaningless phrases. Understanding it is one thing, but learning to use it? Good luck.

If you take the time to understand how CB radio slang came to be and the purposes it serves, not only is the lingo easier to learn, but you may gain a deeper appreciation for the humor and wit behind many of its words and phrases.

Here are a few highlights to get you started:

  • Seasoned CB radio users will enter a conversation by saying “breaker-breaker” to announce their arrival and avoid muscling in on someone’s transmission
  • Since most highways are two lanes or more, the left-most lane (typically where traffic moves faster) is known as the “hammer lane”, while the right-most lane (where traffic usually moves slower) is known as the “granny lane”
  • To keep their trucks and vehicles moving, truckers rely on “go-go juice” or “motion lotion” (fuel)
  • On long stretches of highway, food options are very limited and truckers refer to a sketchy dining establishment as a “choke ‘n puke”
  • Many CB radio phrases relate to driving conditions, such as an “alligator” (a piece of blown or shredded tire lying on the pavement) posing a potential driving hazard 
  • Since truck drivers are unable to see objects directly behind them, fellow truckers may advise them if something is at their “back door”, such as a police car
  • When someone advises that you have a “black eye”, they are telling you that one of your headlights is out
  • To encourage someone to talk or repeat themselves, tell them to “come back” at you
  • Descending an incline is known as a “downstroke”
  • If someone says “I’ve got my nightgown on”, they are heading back to the sleeper section of the cabin and retiring for the night
  • To find out if anybody is paying attention or listening to their transmission, someone may ask if you “got your ears on” 
  • When road conditions are slick or treacherous, they are often referred to as “greasy”
  • When a vehicle is flipped over on its roof in a serious accident, it is known as being “greasy side up” (conversely, truckers urge their fellow CBers to stay “shiny side up” and drive safely)
  • An ambulance is called a “meat wagon” in CB lingo
  • To “pay the water bill” means to go offline to use the restroom
  • A “ratchet jaw” is someone who talks endlessly on a radio channel not letting anyone get in a word edgewise
  • When a CBer sits on the sideline, listening but not talking, they are “reading the mail” (“sandbagging” is another term for this)
  • To respond to anyone in the affirmative, simply say “roger”
  • “Roller skate” is CB slang for any small car
  • Highway mile markers are known as “yardsticks”

These 20 terms and phrases are a small sampling of the colorful lingo that CB users have developed through the years. Although cell phones and satellite communications devices have supplanted CB radios in many trucks and vehicles, nothing can take away from the unique culture that CB radios have fostered.

The Wit and Humor of CB Radio Slang

Learning to understand and speak CB radio slang can seem like a daunting task at first. Although the words sound familiar, their meanings can be elusive. But give it time and not only will the lingo start to make sense, but the wit and humor of this colorful form of communication will become apparent.

Here are a few examples of how funny, witty, and yes, occasionally morbid, CB radio slang can be:

  • Cheese wagon – this term fittingly refers to a school bus
  • Driving award – CB radio slang is known for its sarcasm and this term referring to a speeding ticket is a perfect example
  • Fighter pilot – truckers coined this phrase to describe those annoying drivers who swerve around cars, switching lanes constantly
  • Jumpy juice – because of the long hours that are put in behind the wheel, coffee is a trucker’s best friend
  • Nap trap – truckers are accustomed to sleeping in the back of their cabins so a full-sized bed in a motel room would be impossible to resist
  • Organ donor – this term refers to a motorcyclist riding without a helmet on
  • Pregnant roller skate – a VW Bug, owing to its round, pudgy shape
  • Salt shaker – this aptly coined term refers to snow plows 
  • Turtle race – this phrase is used to describe zones that have low speed limits
  • Radio Rambo – this is what truckers call a CBer who talks tough on the radio waves with very little to back up the bravado

These humorous terms and phrases provide an insightful glimpse into the world of truckers as seen through the lens of CB radio lingo.

How Truckers Refer to Themselves Using CB Radio Lingo?

It is human nature when groups of people form a community, that they make observations about each other and comment on them. For truckers, this plays out through their unique lingo. These are some of the ways that truckers use CB radio slang to refer to each other:

  • When describing another trucker’s rig, fellow CBers will often use terms like “chicken truck” (a truck decked out with bright lights and shiny accessories) or “large car”
  • If a trucker says “you’re blowing my doors off”, it means that another truck is traveling at a very high speed
  • The truck driving community is tight-knit and when a driver encourages others to “keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down”, they are telling them to drive safely and wishing them safe travels (another phrase with a similar sentiment is “keep the rubber side down and the bugs off your glass”)
  • Truckers can also be critical of each other and a “Billy Big Rigger” (aka a “super trucker”) is a trucker driver with a very big ego
  • Truckers also refer to each other by the type or make of truck they drive, for example: “Bull Dog” (Mack truck), “BullFrog” (ABF truck), “Dragon Wagon” (tow truck), “Freight Shaker” (Freightliner truck), “General Mess of Crap” (GMC truck), “K-Whopper” (Kenworth truck), “Skateboard” (flatbed truck), and “Thermos Bottle” (tanker truck).

These phrases demonstrate that some of the most colorful CB radio lingo is reserved to describe truckers themselves.

Different CB Radio Codes and their meaning
CB Slang. Save For Reference.

CB Radio Codes Meaning

Because popular CB radio channels can get congested with user traffic, transmissions need to be brief and to the point. Users devised a way to communicate certain phrases and information using numerical codes (most notably, the 10 codes) and mainstream audiences learned about them firsthand through popular television shows and movies in the 1960s and 1970s.

Although CB radio codes are not used as widely as they once were, some users still utilize them out of convenience or for nostalgia’s sake. Whatever the reason, CB radio codes are still around, and these are some of the notable ones being used today:

  • 10-1 – receiving a poor (weak) quality signal
  • 10-2 – receiving a good (strong) quality signal
  • 10-3 – hold on (stop transmitting)
  • 10-4 – acknowledged (message received)
  • 10-6 – stand by
  • 10-7 – signing off
  • 10-8 – back on the air
  • 10-10 – transmission complete (standing by for response)
  • 10-12 – people are present (exercise discretion please)
  • 10-20 – what is your location
  • 10-42 – reporting a traffic accident ahead
  • 10-43 – reporting traffic congestion ahead

Here is a the full list CB radio codes and their meaning.

CB Radio CodeMeaning
10-1Receiving poorly
10-2Receiving well
10-3Stop transmitting
10-4Message received, understood
10-5Relay message to [Name. Ex: SNR]
10-6Busy, please stand by
10-7Out of service, leaving the air
10-8In service, subject to call
10-9Repeat message
10-10Transmission completed, standing by
10-11Talking too rapidly
10-12Visitors present
10-13Advise weather/road conditions
10-16Make pick up at [Location]
10-17Urgent business
10-18Anything for us?
10-19Nothing for you, return to base
10-20My location is [Location] or What’s your location?
10-21Call by telephone
10-22Report in person to [Person Name]
10-23Stand by
10-24Completed last assignment
10-25Can you contact [Person Name]
10-26Disregard last information
10-27I am moving to channel {Channel Number}
10-28Identify your station
10-29Time is up for contact
10-30Does not conform to FCC rules
10-31Pick up [Person Name]
10-32Radio check
10-33Emergency traffic at this station
10-34Trouble at this station
10-35Confidential information
10-36Correct time is
10-37Wrecker needed at [Location]
10-38Ambulance needed at [Location]
10-39Your message delivered
10-40Break channel
10-41Turning to channel [number]
10-42Traffic accident at [Location]
10-43Traffic tie-up at [Location]
10-44I have a message for you (or Name)
10-45All units within range please report
10-46Assistance needed at [Location]
10-47Emergency at this station
10-50Break channel
10-60What is next message number?
10-62Unable to copy, use phone
10-63Net directed to [Location]
10-64Net clear
10-65Awaiting your next message/assignment
10-67All units comply
10-70Fire at [Location]
10-71Proceed with transmission in sequence
10-73Speed trap at [Location]
10-75You are causing interference
10-77Negative contact
10-84My telephone number is [Phone Number]
10-85My address is [Location]
10-91Talk closer to the microphone
10-93Check my frequency on this channel
10-94Please give me a long count
10-99Mission completed
10-200Police needed at [Location]
CB Slang: Different CB Codes and Their Meaning

Initially developed to streamline radio communication among law enforcement officers when CB radio use was just starting to catch on in the 1940s and 1950s, the 10-codes may be past their heyday of the 60s and 70s but they still serve a valuable purpose for those who continue to use them.

CB Radio Names for the Police: Smokeys and Bears

Given that they spend most of their waking hours on the road, it should come as no surprise that truckers and members of law enforcement have their fair share of run-ins with each other. In truth, they have a rather contentious relationship. 

After all, a truck driver’s job is to get a load from point A to point B as quickly as possible while the police’s job is to keep our highways safe for all drivers. Sometimes, these two interests clash, and when they do, usually the trucker is on the receiving end of an expensive speeding ticket or infraction.

As such, truckers utilize their CB radios to warn other drivers about speed traps and checkpoints they may have driven past (or got caught in), and a significant portion of CB radio lingo relates to law enforcement. Here are some highlights:

  • Bear – the police or law enforcement
  • Bear bait – a vehicle traveling above the posted speed limit
  • Bear cage – jail or a law enforcement facility
  • Bear cave – a police station or headquarters
  • Bear in the air – law enforcement helicopter or airplane (e.g., radar-equipped for enforcing speed laws)
  • Bearmobile – a police car
  • Bear trap – a law enforcement officer with a radar gun, usually parked off the side of a road
  • Black ‘n white – a law enforcement vehicle
  • Boy Scouts – the state police
  • Brown paper bag (also plain wrapper) – an unmarked law enforcement vehicle (i.e., no rooftop lights or official markings)
  • Evel Knievel – a motorcycle officer
  • Kojak with a kodak – a law enforcement officer using a radar gun
  • Lady bear (also mama bear) – a female police officer
  • Local yokel – law enforcement in a small town
  • Smokey or smokey bear – a state law enforcement officer
  • Smokey dozing – a police officer in a parked vehicle
  • Smokey’s thick – heavy police presence
  • Smokey with a camera – a police officer equipped with radar
  • Smokey with ears – a law enforcement vehicle equipped with a CB radio
  • Sneaky snake – a concealed police car

Here is a full list of CB radio lingo relates to police officers.

CB LingoMeaning
BearA law enforcement officer, usually state trooper or highway patrol
Bear in the airPolice helicopter
Bear taking picturesPolice with radar
Bear with earsPolice listening to CB transmissions
County MountieCounty police officer
City KittyCity police officer
Diesel CopDepartment of Transportation Inspector
Gum Ball MachinePolice or emergency vehicle with lights flashing
Kojak with a KodakPolice officer with radar gun
Mama BearFemale police officer
Plain WrapperUnmarked police car
SmokeyState law enforcement officer, highway patrol
Full-Grown BearPoliceman
Local YokelLocal city police officer or county sheriff
Picture TakerRadar Gun
CB Lingo Related to Police Officers.
CB Radio Lingo about Police Officers

From this extensive list (there are even more CB radio terms for police than these) it is fairly obvious that truckers and other CBers who spend a lot of time on the road devote a significant amount of effort watching out for law enforcement, for their own sake and the benefit of their CB radio community.

Are There Rules for Using a CB Radio?

CB radio channels are open forums for anyone with the right equipment to join. While there are no hard and fast rules about how you should behave while transmitting on the radio, there are unwritten formalities most users follow. These are a few unofficial but generally respected, rules of conduct for using a CB radio:

  • CB radio channels, especially the popular ones, can get quite congested with radio traffic so keep your transmissions brief and to the point
  • Truckers have been known to use colorful language but anyone with a CB radio can listen in on conversations, including children, so obscene and vulgar language is discouraged
  • Scam artists can use CB radio waves to lure unsuspecting victims so do not believe everything you hear
  • Keep your load and livelihood secure by not revealing the nature or value of the cargo in your truck over the radio

Generally speaking, CB radio enthusiasts are a respectful, good-natured bunch using the radio waves to look out for their fellow CBers and keep each other company. By following these basic rules of conduct, you can fit right in and join the fun.

Final Thoughts – Over and Out

With the exception of a few recognizable words sprinkled in here and there, CB radio traffic can sound like a foreign language. Through the years, CB radio users, truckers in particular, have developed a distinctive lingo that reflects the unique origin and history of this popular mode of communication. 

CB radio lingo may be confusing and difficult to understand at first, but over time and with an appreciation for the purposes it serves, it can be fun to learn and satisfying to use.


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