Did You Know These Everyday Phrases Originated from Trucker Slang?
04/04/2017 — Jerry Spelic
We depend on truckers to keep our freight and economy
moving. Over time, they have developed a language all their own. Did you know
that many words and phrases you use every day originated as trucker slang? Transportation
is so important and vital to the US economy that we thought we’d put together a
blog post about trucker slang and lingo.
First, a short history lesson. In 1958, the FCC (Federal
Communications Commission) allocated a new block of frequencies for a citizens
band (CB) service. During the 1960s, it became popular among small businesses
that were frequently on the road, like electricians, plumbers, carpenters and truck
drivers. As CB radios became smaller and less expensive, CB radio usage exploded and
a CB slang language evolved.
Some common, everyday phrases that started as trucker
slang include calling your spouse your “better half.” Or watching the “idiot
box.” If you still have a home phone, you probably call it a “landline.” So did
truckers, decades ago! Ever meet someone for a “barley pop?” Or shop at “Wally
World?” Yes, these slang words for beer and Walmart owe their creation to
Truckers have also created some great nicknames for
American cities. Los Angeles is commonly known as “Shaky Town.” In fact, most
city slang names refer to what the city is known for. Like “Beer Town” (Milwaukee),
“Guitar” (Nashville), “Derby” (Louisville), and “Gateway” (St. Louis). Others
are just fun to say, like “Choo-choo” (Chattanooga), “The Big D” (Dallas) and “The
During the 1970s oil crisis, the U.S. government imposed
a 55 mph speed limit, and fuel shortages and rationing were common. CB radios
were crucial for truckers to locate service stations with fuel and to warn of speed
traps. Truckers paid by the mile were negatively impacted by driving slow so
lots of slang was created to alert other truckers of law enforcement. If you’ve
seen Smokey and the Bandit, you
know an officer of the law is a “bear.” But did you know that a rookie cop is a “baby
bear,” a police helicopter is a “bear in the air,” or that a speed trap is
known as a “bear trap?” A sheriff is known as a “county mounty” and “city
kitties” are the local police.
Finally, you’ve probably used “10-4” to acknowledge that
you heard or understood something that someone said. Same with “what’s your
20?” which is short for 10-20, meaning location. These everyday terms
originated from CB radio slang.
Next time you have a load you need to keep between the ditches, whether it is "Badger Bound" or headed to "Mile High," contact PartnerShip. You can reach us at 800-599-2902 or get a quote now! Until then, keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down.