Morse code abbreviations
Morse code abbreviations are used to speed up Morse communications by foreshortening textual words and phrases. Morse abbreviations are short forms representing normal textual words and phrases formed from some (fewer) characters borrowed from the words or phrases being abbreviated. Aside: Morse code abbreviations are not the same as the so-called Prosigns for Morse code. Morse abbreviations are composed of (normal) textual alpha-numeric character symbols with normal Morse code inter-character spacing; the character symbols in abbreviations, unlike the delineated character groups representing Morse code prosigns, are not "run together" or concatenated in the way most prosigns for Morse code are formed.
From 1845 until well into the second half of the 20th century, commercial telegraphic code books were used to shorten telegrams, e.g. "Pascoela = Natives have plundered everything from the wreck".
Table of Selected Morse Code Abbreviations
|AA||All after (used after question mark to request a repetition)|
|AB||All before (similarly)|
|ARRL||American Radio Relay League|
|BCNU||Be seeing you|
|BK||Break (to pause transmission of a message, say)|
|BTU||Back to you|
|BUG||Semiautomatic mechanical key|
|BURO||Bureau (usually used in the phrase PLS QSL VIA BURO, "Please send QSL card via my local/national QSL bureau")|
|CL||Clear (I am closing my station)|
|CLG||. . . Calling|
|CQ||Calling . . . (any station, when nothing is specified)|
|CQD||Original International Distress Call, fell out of use before 1915|
|CUL||See you later|
|CW||Continuous wave (i.e., radiotelegraph)|
|DE||From (or "this is")|
|DSW||Goodbye (Russian: до свидания [Do svidanya])|
|DX||Distance (sometimes refers to long distance contact), foreign countries|
|ERE||Here (more commonly: HR)|
|FB||Fine business (Analogous to "OK")|
|FCC||Federal Communications Commission|
|GA||Good afternoon or Go ahead (depending on context)|
|GND||Ground (ground potential)|
|HEE||Humour intended or laughter (often repeated, e.g. HEE HEE)|
|HI||Humour intended or laughter (originates from American Morse "HO")|
|II||I say again|
|KN||Over; only the station named should respond (e.g. W7PTH DE W1AW KN)|
|OM||Old man (any male amateur radio operator is an OM regardless of age)|
|OTC||Old timers club (ARRL-sponsored organization for radio amateurs first licensed 20 or more years ago)|
|OOTC||Old old timers club (organization for those whose first two-way radio contact occurred 40 or more years ago; separate from OTC and ARRL)|
|QCWA||Quarter Century Wireless Association (organization for radio amateurs who have been licensed for 25 or more years)|
|R||Are; received as transmitted (origin of "Roger"), or decimal point (depending on context)|
|RPT||Repeat or report (depending on context)|
|RST||Signal report format (Readability-Signal Strength-Tone)|
|SASE||Self-addressed, stamped envelope|
|SFR||So far (proword)|
|SIG||Signal or signature|
|SK||Out (proword), end of contact|
|SK||Silent Key (a deceased radio amateur)|
|SMS||Short message service|
|T||Zero (usually an elongated dah)|
|UR||Your or You're (depending on context)|
|WTC||Whats the craic? (Irish Language: [Conas atá tú?])|
|YL||Young lady (originally an unmarried female operator, now used for any female)|
|77||Long Live CW (Morse Code), wishing you many happy CW contacts|
|88||Love and kisses|
An amateur radio Morse code conversation example
To make Morse code communications faster and more efficient, there are many internationally agreed patterns or conventions of communication which include: extensive use of abbreviations, use of brevity codes such as the RST code, Q code, Z code as well as the use of Morse prosigns. The skills required to have efficient fast conversations with Morse comprise more than simply knowing the Morse code symbols for the alphabet and numerals. Skilled telegraphists must also know many traditional International Morse code communications conventions.
In the following example of a typical casual Morse code conversation between two stations there is extensive use of such: Morse code abbreviations, brevity codes, Morse prosigns and other such conventions.
Aside: Note that in Morse code there is no dot dash sequence defined for the mathematical equal sign and so in fact equal signs are never transmitted by Morse code operators. Usually the word "EQUALS" would be sent in lieu of an actual mathematical equal sign. That said however, in the following example of a casual Morse code conversation between two station operators, the mathematical symbol, the equal sign "=", is shown in the following paragraphs in the illustrated Morse data streams. This equal sign convention is only used here in this Wikipedia article to represent the actual Morse prosign BT often verbalized as "dahdidididah". This Morse code prosign essentially indicates a new paragraph in the text. This use of the mathematical symbol "=" to represent the new paragraph Morse prosign BT is only ever encountered by operators who may be copying Morse code using certain single or dual line display electronic automatic Morse code readers. Normally when copying Morse code manually by handwriting or typewriting the equal sign "=" representation of the Morse prosign BT shown here is never actually written down by Morse operators who copy manually. Instead of writing or typing an equal sign, or writing some other representation of the prosign BT, a receiving Morse operator who is copying manually merely creates a new paragraph in the recorded text upon reception of the prosign. This new paragraph copying convention is illustrated in the following example conversation. When copying mentally instead of manually writing text on paper or to a computer file, the receiving operator copying mentally will merely use the time taken by the BT prosign for either a mental pause, or to jot down for later reference a short word or phrase from the information being sent.
An example casual Morse code (CW) conversation between Station 1 (S1) and Station 2 (S2) is illustrated in the following paragraphs. Here the actual Morse code information stream sent by each station (S1 and S2) is shown in bold face type, and is followed below each bold face transmission by a translation of the sent data stream, together with short explanations of the data streams. These translations and explanations are shown in the shaded blocks below each station's indicated transmission data stream.
S1 sends Morse data stream: "CQ CQ CQ DE S1 K"
Calling anyone (CQ CQ CQ) from (DE) S1 Over to anyone (K)
S2 sends Morse data stream: "S1 DE S2 KN"
S1 from S2 Over to you (listening for a response only from designated station)
S1 sends Morse data stream: "S2 DE S1 = GA DR OM UR RST 5NN HR = QTH TIMBUKTU = OP IS JOHN = HW? S2 DE S1 KN"
S2 from S1 (Note the "=" sign here represents the ''new paragraph'' prosign as might be displayed on a single or dual line display automatic Morse code reader. However if copying manually the receiving operator will merely space down to create a new paragraph upon hearing the prosign indicated here by "=".) Good afternoon dear old man. You are RST 599 here (Note: RST indicates use of the RST code, the Readability, Strength and Tone code, and the N's substitute for numeric 9's RST 599 indicates; signal is very readable (5) and very strong (9), with very good tone (9)) I'm located (QTH) in Timbuktu The operator's (OP) name is John How do you copy? (HW?) S2 from S1 Over to you
S2 sends Morse data stream: "S1 DE S2 = TNX FB RPRT DR OM JOHN UR 559 = QTH HIMALAYA = NM IS YETI S1 DE S2 KN"
S1 from S2 Thanks for the Fine Business (FB means "fine") report dear old man John. I read you 559 (very readable (5), average strength (5), very good tone (9)) I am in (QTH) the Himalayas My name (NM) is Yeti S1 from S2 Over to you
S1 sends Morse data stream: "S2 DE S1 = OK TNX QSO DR YETI = 73 ES HPE CUAGN S2 DE S1 KN"
S2 from S1 Okay, thanks for this conversation (QSO), dear Yeti Best regards (73) and (ES) hope (HPE) to see you again (CUAGN) S2 from S1 Over to you
S2 sends Morse data stream: "S1 DE S2 = R TU CUAGN 73 S1 DE S2 SK"
S1 from S2 Roger (R means "Roger" or "Received all") Thank you (TU) see you again (CUAGN) Best regards (73) S1 from S2 Signing off
Informal Language Independent Conversations
Rag chewer is a name applied to amateur radio Morse code operators who engage in informal Morse code conversations (known as chewing the rag) while discussing subjects such as: the weather, their location, signal quality, and their equipment. Meaningful rag chewing between fluent Morse code operators having different native languages is possible because of a common Lingua Franca provided by: the prosigns for Morse code, the International Q code, Z code, RST code, the telegraph era Phillips Code and many well known Morse code abbreviations as discussed in this Wikipedia article. Together all of these traditional conventions serve as a somewhat cryptic but commonly understood language (Lingua Franca) within the world-wide community of amateur radio Morse code operators.
These codes and protocols efficiently encode many well known statements and questions from many languages into short simple character groups which may be sent manually very quickly. The international Q code for instance encodes literally hundreds of full normal language sentences and questions in short three character codes each beginning with the character Q. For example, the code word QTH means "My location is". If this code word is followed by a question mark as QTH? it means "What is your location?". Typically very few full words will be spelled out in Morse code conversations. Often vowels are left out to shorten transmissions and turn overs. Other examples, of internationally recognized usages of Morse code abbreviations and well known code numbers, such as those of the Phillips Code from past eras of telegraph technology, are usages such as WX for weather, or the numbers 73 for best regards and 88 for love and kisses.
These techniques are similar to, and often much faster than, texting on modern cellphones. Using this extensive Lingua Franca that is widely understood across many languages and cultures, surprisingly meaningful Morse code conversations can be efficiently conducted with short transmissions independently of native languages, even between operators who cannot actually communicate by voice because of language barriers!
With heavy use of the Q code and Morse Code Abbreviations, surprisingly meaningful conversations can readily occur. Note that in the preceding example conversation very few full English words have been used. In fact, S1 and S2 might not speak the same native language.
Of course, real rag-chewing (lengthy conversations) could not be accomplished by non-native speakers without such a common language.
Contesters often use a very specialized and even shorter format for their contacts. Their purpose is to process as many contacts as possible in a limited time (e.g. 100–150 per hour).