Looking at Voice Procedure terms on Wikipedia has left me a bit confused:

Out — I have finished talking to you and do not expect a reply.

Over — I have finished talking and I am listening for your reply. Short for "Over to you."

I've certainly heard the phrase, "Roger, over and out," used in Hollywood and general pop culture, but given what I've read it seems like both terms contradict each other. You wouldn't be listening for a reply if you did not expect one.

  • I think it's more redundant than contradictory. I'm done, please confirm that you're done, too. – Barmar Jul 23 '15 at 0:03
  • This phrase is a relic of a different area, and even in that era radiotelephone operators just said "out" (not "over and out"). – Robusto Jul 23 '15 at 0:13
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    "over" doesn't mean "over to you", but rather "my unit of speech is over". (In half-duplex communication it indicates "I have finished speaking and switched my unit from transmit to receive"). – Kaz Jul 23 '15 at 2:03
  • It's what they said on Highway Patrol and other TV shows of the 50s ("10-4" was another favorite), so it must be correct. – Hot Licks Jul 23 '15 at 2:46
  • I've always thought it was just a mistake. – Konrad Gajewski Jul 29 '15 at 16:16

Based on the definitions given in Wikipedia, these do seem contradictory. A quick look at page 42 of a Civil Aviation Authority manual (a source listed on Wikipedia) also seems to offer conflicting definitions:

OUT* This exchange of transmissions is ended and no response is expected.

OVER* My transmission is ended and I expect a response from you.

My guess would be that "over and out" is a phrase coined and popularized by Hollywood, rather than through true usage.

  • Hello, MeltingCity, and welcome to English Language & Usage. Your answer is interesting—and potentially very good—but at the moment it requires the reader to negotiate a PDF of the Civil Aviation Authority manual. Your answer would be stronger (and more convenient to read) if you quoted the relevant sentence(s) of the manual as an extract (block quote) in your answer, retaining the link for readers who might want to see the manual's full treatment. If you make that addition, I'll happily upvote your answer. Thanks! – Sven Yargs Jul 23 '15 at 0:41
  • It should be noted that the general lingo was used by many groups besides aviation. The police, in particular, used variants of the lingo (and likely different variants in different parts of the country). I have little doubt that "over and out" was used somewhere. – Hot Licks Jul 23 '15 at 2:49
  • @SvenYargs I can't find the evidence for it, but I feel sure it relates to a particular early radio transmission device which had a lever which was pushed over to a different position to switch from speaking to listening mode. To end the call completely the lever was pushed outwards. Hence the terms over and out were used to confirm to the other party that a) you had finished talking and were switching to listening, and then b)that you were terminating the call altogether. – WS2 Jul 23 '15 at 5:53
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    @SvenYargs Thank you for the welcome and the advice! I have included quotes from the manual I cited. – MeltingCity Jul 23 '15 at 5:59
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    @SvenYargs This touches on it, but does not explain it either well or fully. – WS2 Jul 23 '15 at 7:29

As someone who received both military and aviation Radio Procedure training I can assure you that they are indeed contradictory, and that real radio operators are trained not to use the phrase. The phrase is a product of Hollywood (and perpetuated by those whose only radio procedure training comes from Hollywood). This fact is usually taught to radio operators in the first hour of their training.

The correct usage is exactly that stated in the question. Wikipedia is right. The UK Civil Aviation Authority is right (Chapter 2 Page 5).


  • Over — I have finished talking and I am listening for your reply.
  • Out — I have finished talking to you and do not expect a reply.
  • Over and Out - incorrect procedure.

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