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Many industries and professions develop their own language, but none is quite as creative and entertaining as the language of semi-truck drivers. Unlike the military, which loves its acronyms, truckers have a name for everything, and some are super creative. If you’ve ever spent a day in the cab with a trucker or listened in on a CB radio, you’ve heard some of the jargon used.

Why do semi-truck drivers use a secret language?

A Semi-Truck on the Road at Dawn
A Semi-Truck on the Road at Dawn | Shutterstock

Actually, the language isn’t that much of a secret, it’s simply unique to the trucking industry. Anyone can look up some of the phrases and learn what the truckers are talking about on their radios. Babble tells us there are two reasons why truckers create a special name for common items:

  • Creative names help them pass the time
  • It’s can add a little fun to the long, lonely drives

Do truckers still use CB radios in their semis?

An old-style CB Radio used by semi-truck drivers
CB Radio | Shutterstock

CB radio use has declined since its prominence in the 1970s. Like most communication devices, this radio has been phased out due to the increased use of cell phones. Back in the ‘70s, truckers weren’t the only people using CB radios. You probably had an uncle or grandparent that had one of these radios in their personal truck. Today, truckers have these radios for safety reasons, but most aren’t used as often as they were back in the day.

What are some of the phrases semi-truck drivers use, and what do they mean?

Semi-Truck Driving Down the Road
Semi-Truck Driving Down the Road | Shutterstock

A desire to keep police scanning the CB bands from knowing what truckers were talking about helped create the language of semi-truck drivers. Eventually, the language became just a fun and creative way to pass the time. Here are some of the terms used and what they mean:

Bear – Police officer

Bear Bait – A speeding vehicle

Black Eye – A truck with a headlight out

Cheese Wagon – School bus

Got my nightgown on – Ready to go to sleep

Kojak with a Kodiak – A police officer actively using a radar gun

Motion Lotion – Diesel fuel

Mud – Coffee

On your donkey – Right behind you

Paying the water bill – stopping to use the restroom

Road pizza – roadkill

Sesame Street – channel 19, the main CB channel for truckers

How complicated can the language of truckers become?

Trucker Talking on a CB Radio
Trucker Talking on a CB Radio | Shutterstock

The terms above are only a few of the terms you might hear if you tuned into the truckers talking on their CB radios. A conversation you could hear might go like this:

Trucker 1: “ Break 1-9 for that westbound bull rack. Come on. How’s it lookin’ over your shoulder? What’d you leave behind you?”

Trucker 2: “There was a plain brown wrapper at the 56 yd stick, a bear in the air, and a wreck at the 104. The coopers were workin’ hard on your side going east.”

Trucker 3: “You’re clean back to the 12 yd stick, where I got in.”

If you heard this over the CB radio, would you know what these truckers were talking about? Most truckers today don’t use the CB radio the same as before the proliferation of cell phones, but some still do.

If you’d like to hear a song filled with trucker lingo, find “Convoy” by C.W. McCall, and listen to some of the terms used.

Next, check out how the Ford F-150 annoys its owners, or learn a little more about the language of semi-truck drivers in the video below:


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