How Fluent in Trucker Lingo Are You?



By: Laura DeFazio

7 Min Quiz

Image: shotbydave / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Traditionally, truckers have kept each other in the know on the road via Citizens band (or "CB") radio, a two-way, person-to-person communication system with a typical range of 1 to 10 miles. (In rare cases, the range can get up to 50 miles.) CB radio has been replaced by newer technologies in most fields, but it's still going strong among truck drivers.

Drivers choose their own radio nicknames and use the CB to share news about weather, traffic conditions, other folks on the road and cops hiding in wait with radar guns. They often use short "10-codes" to efficiently convey messages, so as not to clog up the channel with too much "mouthination." Between the 10-codes and all the terms for various vehicles, law enforcement officers, cities, women and other frequent conversational topics, the jargon can sound like nonsense to the untrained ear. Then again, it also sounds pretty darn cool. How well can you keep up? Come on!

Thanks for checking out this quiz, good neighbor; you have yourself a good day today and a better day tomorrow. Now, keep that left door closed. 10-4?

(That's trucker-talk for "Thanks for checking out this quiz, buddy; take care! Now get to work. OK?")

An oncoming trucker uses the CB radio to warn you about the Smokey Bear around the bend. What are they referring to?

"Smokey Bear" is trucker code for highway patrol or another kind of law enforcement officer. This term became well-known to the public with the 1977 film "Smokey and the Bandit" starring Burt Reynolds.


What does an "alligator" refer to in trucker lingo?

Blown tires on the side of the road can look a little like alligators. If you accidentally run them over, they can bounce back and "bite" you, which can damage your vehicle as well as pose a danger to other drivers on the road. A small piece of tire is sometimes referred to as a "baby alligator," and a bunch of little tire pieces are called "alligator bait."


What is a trucker's "handle"?

A trucker's handle is the particular nickname they choose for themselves on the CB radio. Some examples of real trucker handles include "Fatcat," "The Wombat," "Big Bag," "Large Marge," "Twitch"... The list goes on.


What's a trucker's "comic book"?

A driver's logbook (or "comic book") is where they keep track of which hours they worked and how much time was devoted to particular duties such as driving, loading, unloading, etc. "Drawing lines" is trucker slang for filling out their "comic book."


If a trucker mentions a "deadhead," what are they probably referring to?

A "deadhead" is an empty truck (although "Truckin'" is indeed a good driving song.) A headlight that's gone out is often called a "black eye." A driver who's having trouble keeping from nodding off is "having shutter trouble."


What's "that ol' double-nickel" in CB lingo?

A nickel is five cents and the speed on many US highways is 55 mph. Thus, "double nickel." Some highways allow you to drive 65 mph these days though, or even 75 mph. Some roads have more stringent guidelines for large trucks than regular passenger cars.


You've been truckin' for a few hours and it's time to stretch your legs, use a restroom for free and maybe get a soda from the vending machine. Where's usually the easiest place to pull over?

You'll hear truckers referring to rest stops as "pickle parks" on the CB radio. A "bear cave" is a police station, the "granny lane" is the slow right lane and "Wally World" is what drivers call Walmart.


What's a generic trucker term for any ol' tractor-trailer?

The term "!8-wheeler" is commonly used among non-truckers as well. "Hog" is a general slang term for a large motorcycle. A "dragonfly" is the trucker term for a truck with barely any power, especially one going up a hill, and a "Mama-Bear" is trucker for a female law enforcement officer.


You've got to look out for those Evil Knievels when you're driving a truck. What is an "Evil Knievel"?

A wordplay on "Evel Knievel," the famous daredevil motorcyclist who performed various nail-biting jumps across long distances. "Smokin' Scooter" is another trucker name for cops on motorcycles.


If a trucker is talking about "Miss Piggy," who are they referring to?

"Miss Piggy" is a derogatory term for a female police officer. "Mama Bear," a variation of "Smokey Bear," is a less offensive version. A CB user who won't stop yammering is often called a "ratchet jaw."


After a long day on the road, you pull over at a truck stop with the thought of using some of your green stamps. What are these?

"Green stamps" refer to money. A unrelated but similar-sounding trucker term is "bingo cards," which refer to cards that truckers carried that held stamps from each of the states they operated in. This system is no longer used and has been replaced by the Single State Registration System (SSRS).


What does a "comedian" refer to in trucker talk?

The divide between opposing traffic lanes is called the "comedian," a play on the commonly used term "median." Someone who talks a lot on the radio is called a "ratchet jaw," a UPS driver can be referred to as "Buster Brown" and an ambulance is dubbed, somewhat unsettlingly, a "meat wagon."


What is it called when someone is listening in to the CB radio but not conversing?

"Sandbagging" is when a truck driver has Channel 19 on to listen to the news coming down the highway, not necessarily to ask any questions or give any information. Another term for this is "reading the mail."


If you pass a fellow truck driver going the opposite direction, and you expect to see them again in several days when you each turn around to make your return trips, what might you say?

Truckers refer to the return trip as "the flip-flop." (This term can also refer to a U-turn.) The first two answers are made-up expressions. The last one is nonsense as well, although it sounds a little truckery at first glance. ("Good neighbor" is a friendly way truckers refer to one another to show appreciation, and 10-26 is a radio code that means "Disregard last information.")


Which of the following is not trucker slang for a law enforcement vehicle?

A "bear cage" is not a law enforcement vehicle, although sometimes truckers use it to refer to a police station or jail. A "plain brown wrapper," sometimes called a "polar bear," is an unmarked police car. A "smokin' scooter" is a motorcycle ridden by a cop (cops on bikes are also called "Evil Knievels"), and a "bear in the air" is a law enforcement aircraft.


What does a "seat cover" refer to in truck lingo?

Traditionally, truck driving has been a profession dominated by straight males, and there does not seem to be a commonly used equivalent word in the lexicon for an attractive male "seat cover." Yet ...


Who is a "driver" in trucker talk?

A driver only refers to other truckers. Someone who is driving a regular car may be called a "four-wheeler." (A four-wheeler can also refer to a four-wheeled vehicle.) Some hotshot driving a big pickup truck thinking he's all that may be referred to, in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner, as a "semi-pro."


What have truckers traditionally called the city of Boston?

It's not certain how Massachusetts' capital got this odd nickname, although we know it dates back to colonial times. One popular theory says it was started by sailors and traders in reference to the locals' penchant for beans baked in molasses. At any rate, the term is hardly ever used anymore, especially not by locals, but it can still be heard from time to time on the ol' CB.


What do "Checkpoint Charlies" refer to in trucker-speak?

The term Checkpoint Charlie was originally the nickname given to Checkpoint C, a well-known crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin when the Berling Wall was up during the Cold War. Concerning trucker lingo, however, it's a place where the cops set up to watch out for drunken and dangerous drivers.


Citizen's band radio (also known as CB radio) is a short-distance, person-to-person radio system used by truckers to communicate with each other on the road. Do you know which channel they generally use?

The unofficial "travelers' channel" across most of the world (including the US) is Channel 19. In some countries, truckers use different channels. In Australia, for example, the traditionally used trucker channel is Channel 40.


What is a "bear bite"?

When the "bear" (a law enforcement officer) "bites" you, what you end up with is a speeding ticket. Just be grateful you haven't been thrown in the "bear cage" (a term for prison), because that would be more difficulty to explain to the boss ...


If a driver is heading to Steel Town, where are they going?

This nickname for Pittsburgh was a trucker term that caught on with the general public. The other cities listed have nicknames as well: Flagstaff is "Flagpole" or "Flag Town" and Miami is "Bikini," for example.


"10 Codes" are verbal shortcuts to efficiently convey urgent or frequently used messages on the CB radio. Which of the following code translations is NOT correct?

"Out of service/going off-air" is indeed a radio message conveyed with 10 Codes, but its code is 10-7. A few of the other frequent ones not mentioned here are 10-8 ("Back on air/subject to receiving calls"), 10-9 ("Please repeat message") and 10-10 (Standing by and listening for a reply).


What is the trucker name for Las Vegas?

In a city so well-known for gambling, debauchery, dancing women and more, it's no wonder truckers call Las Vegas "Lost Wages." But hey, after all those long hours on the road, everyone deserves to have a little fun now and then ...


How would truckers talking on the CB radio advise one another to slow down?

Although "Bubba" is a friendly term often used among truckers, 'cool the jets" is not traditional CB slang. "Brake check" is a way to let other drivers know that traffic slows up ahead. "Everybody's walking the dog" is indeed a phrase heard on the CB, but it means that the radio is all clogged up with speakers.


What's a "Kojak with a Kodak"?

This phrase derives from the 1970s television show "Kojak," about NYPD detective lieutenant Theo Kojak. A Kodak was a popular camera brand, thus a "Kojak with a Kodak" is a police-type taking pictures. ("Picture taker" is another CB slang term for a radar gun.)


What is a driver's "10-20"?

10-20 is one of the most common CB codes and refers to a driver's location. One driver might say to another "What's your 10-20?" or "My 10-20 is ...". A driver's home location is their "Home 20."


Which city does "Capital City" refer to in CB lingo?

Oddly enough, "Capital City" refers to Raleigh, not the nation's capital. Council Bluffs is called CB Town, which is amusing as it relates to the initials rather than the CB radio. Buffalo is called The Nickel, in reference to the old buffalo (or "Indian head") nickels that were minted in the US in the early 1900s.


What does is mean when a truck driver is "throwing iron"?

"Throwing iron" is slang for putting on tire chains. These are extremely helpful to drivers trying to make it through treacherous winter conditions safely. "Throwing jewelry" is a synonym in the trucker lexicon.


If a car is driving too close behind a truck, the truck driver might refer to that car as a ...

A closely-tailgating driver is referred to as a bumper sticker. The other answers are CB slang terms as well: an "ankle biter" is a child, a "bobtail" is a tractor being driven without a trailer and referring to someone as a "Rambo" implies that they're a jabbermouth talking tough on the radio.


Which of the following CB radio terms is not a name for a law enforcement officer?

"Bear" is a general trucker term for cops. "Bubba," however, is a way truckers refer to one another in a friendly or joking manner. As for the other answers, a "Care Bear" is a cop who's parked with work crews keeping them safe. A "County Mountie" is a county policeman, often a deputy to a sheriff. A "Local Yokel" is a local police officer.


Weigh stations are used to weigh trucks for taxation purposes and to ensure that trucks meet certain safety requirements. Which of these words is trucker-talk for "weigh station"?

A weigh station is called a "chicken coop," or sometimes just a coop. "Donkey" means "behind you" (as in, "Hey Bubba, there's a Smokey Bear on your donkey") and a "doughnut" is a tire. "Gumball machine" refers to the flashing lights on top of a cop car, or sometimes the whole car.


Which of these trucker terms is not a type of vehicle you might find on the road?

Drivers have nicknames for all sorts of vehicle on the road, be they broad terms or names for specific brands. An "anteater" is a Kenworth T-600 truck. A "roller skate" refers to any small vehicle. A "bulldog" refers to a Mack truck. A canoe is just a canoe.


Which one of these animal terms really is an animal in CB lingo? (A non-human animal, that is.)

A "Bambi" refers to a deer, either a dead deer on or near the road or a live one. A "bullfrog," on the other hand, is an ABF company truck. A "bear" is a police officer and a "bird dog" is a radar detector.


Which of these is not a trucker nickname for a speeding ticket?

A satisfaction survey is not one of the many nicknames given to speeding tickets. Considering the trials and tribulations of long drives on the highway, it isn't surprising that such a high percentage of the trucker lexicon is devoted to colorful terms for speeding tickets, speed traps, cops, law enforcement vehicles, etc.


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