Roger That and other Military Terms explained

Because of my excessive interest in war time and aviation movies, I occasionally use terms like “Roger”, “Negative” etc, to which the person interacting with me are caught by surprise. These terms are used extensively when people talk using wireless radio. I’m somehow fascinated by these terminologies and this post is to share my understanding of them with you.

keywords: Military Terminology,Radio communication

I may be wrong somewhere. If so please correct me. If you’ve something interesting to add, please let me know.

What is the significance of these?

Clarity is very important while communicating via radio. Only one person speaks at any given time and others listen. Most of the terminologies used are understandable internationally by any radio operator. This eliminates ambiguities among operators. (When operating in adverse conditions and critical situations, mis-interpretation of a voice message can be fatal, hence a unified practice is essential)

I’m not expecting everyone to learn and start using these in our communications daily. Just read on to get a basic understanding of these terminologies. If you like them, you can always talk to me in that language.

Terms used in radio communication and their meanings:

Roger/Roger that: “Roger” is the term used in radio communication to mean that your message is received and understood.

Copy/Copy that: “Copy” is also used to acknowledge that information is received.

The difference between Roger and Copy is that the former is used to acknowledge an instruction (which demands some action) while the later is used to acknowledge an information (which may not need an action)

Negative: Means “NO”. When a question expecting a Boolean answer is asked, Negative is used to indicate “NO” and “Affirmative/positive” is used to mean YES

Stand by: Stand by is a situation where you stay fully prepared for an action and wait for the permission/command to begin.

Stand down: Stand Down implies you retreat from your state of readiness to ease.

Aye aye Sir: Marine units use the term “aye aye Sir” instead of saying “YES Sir”. I don’t know (Trying to find out) what they say for “No Sir”

Do you read me?: Are you getting this communication? If you’re able to hear this you’re expected to respond with “Loud & clear” or “Roger”

Abandon the present mission in whatever state it is and return to base.

NO Names: By “no names” one means that they should not use any names of individuals/organizations during the conversations. Radio conversations can be easily intercepted by enemies hence to protect the identity its very much common practice not to use real names.

Engage: In military terms, engaging the enemy means keep the enemy occupied or cause a distraction and prevent the enemy from pursuing his intended mission. Destroying the enemy is the last option to be used, if he can’t be engaged by any other means.

“Captain has the conn”: In ships/submarines, though there’ll be many senior officers on board, at any given time there’ll be one person who has full control and he/she will be responsible for minute by minute monitoring and operation of the vessel. When shifts change or operating authority is handed over, the officer who hands over the control announces that “XYZ has the conn” and the person who takes over announces “I’ve the conn”, so that everyone knows from whom they should take their orders from, till further notice. To this, the helmsman responds with present status: “aye, sir. Steering course 358, checking cse 348, port steering units, port cable …”

Over: means “I’ve finished my sentence, now you can speak”. It’s not a good practice for both people to speak at once. At any point only one person speaks and the other listens. Once you have said what you wanted to, you say “over” meaning now the other person can start. The other person speaks his words and says over, and cycle repeats till someone says “out”

Out: Out implies the termination of present communication. You will not respond to “out”. If you have anything else to say, it’ll be a new conversation.

Report In: When you get the command “Report In” you’re expected to give a brief status report (prefix the report with your identity). (Ex: “unit 4 reporting in: Sector 4 all clear”.)

Rendezvous: This term technically means meeting point, where you’re expected to go after completion of the mission, for say extraction.

Intel: short for intelligence. Meaning secret/specific information on something

Radio silence: Do not communicate using radio. When the chances of enemy interception of radio communication are high, it’s advisable to use complete radio silence.

So do you copy?

Over and out.


  1. Copy that:)
    and thanks :)

  2. Hey Shrinidhi,

    That was an awesome post...Thanks for that. Keep updating the blog as and when you come across new terms.

  3. fire at will,
    and the 2'o'clock and 6'o'clock business, stay frosty, might be good additions.

    1. Could u please explain the codes that you mentioned. Thank you.

  4. Over and out makes me cringe

    1. Roger that -- go ahead and reply, but I won't be listening...

  5. May day could be added!

  6. Amazing write-up!
    I always used these terms but never knew what they really meant, before checking out this article. Will share on my blog post.
    Thanks :)

  7. Hey Shrinidhi,
    Thanks for that. Keep updating the blog as and when you come across new terms.
    That was an awesome post...

  8. wow! great article... thanks for sharing. Keep it up sir

  9. Wonderful article with hard work. Thanks for the share.

  10. Rogur that.
    I want intel on some more.

  11. by the way, over and out isn't actually used together. Over implies you are expecting a response, and out means you have finished the conversation....over and out I think is a residue of Hollywood.

  12. there is no, "No Sir" when you're a marine.

  13. Actually, AYE SIR means "Yes sir" while AYE AYE SIR means "I understand and will follow your order as given".

  14. These communication codes reminds me of many years ago in the battle field. Copy that, over and out

    1. Glad to know that. I am sure you'll have lots of stories to tell

  15. over and out are not to be used together as they contradict each other.

  16. Roger Wilco = I understand and will comply with your order.

  17. "Comms" for communication or communicators?

  18. There is no such word as "No Sir" in the dictionary of marines. Lol. Although i am a mechant navy guy, yet we receive primary trainings (read non-combact).

  19. Thank you for sharing this great post

  20. Good job. However, the sign out "OVER AND OUT" is never used as it is a contradiction -- you are that you have finished transmitting and asking for the other person to start transmitting (OVER) while ending the connection (OUT). Check out the Wikipedia page on procedure words and search for 'over'. I quote the relevant part: >>Contrary to popular belief, "OVER" and "OUT" are never used at the same time, since their meanings are mutually exclusive. With spring-loaded PTT buttons on modern combined transceivers, the same meaning can be communicated with just "OUT", as in "Ops, Alpha, ETA five minutes. OUT."<< .... OUT!

  21. In both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, "Aye, aye" actually means "I understand and I will obey". It is sometimes slurred to sound like a single "aye", but a single "aye" can also be used as a slang version of "yes". Context would clarify the difference.


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