What’s Your 20 Mean? – Origins of CB Radio Slang in Trucker Culture

Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 06:35 pm


CB radios have been a staple in the trucking industry for many decades. They provide a platform for truckers to communicate with each other, sharing information on traffic, road conditions, and even just for some friendly banter. But CB radio communication goes beyond just plain language.

It is peppered with a unique set of slang words and phrases that have become an integral part of the trucker culture. In this article, we will explore the meaning and origins of CB radio slang, with a particular focus on the popular phrase “What’s Your 20 Mean?“.

The Short Answer

“What’s Your 20 mean?” is a CB slang use for “What’s your location?”.

Understanding CB Radio Slang

What is CB Radio?

CB radio, short for Citizens Band radio, is a system of short-range radio communication that allows individuals to communicate with each other using specific radio frequencies. It became popular in the 1970s and was widely adopted by truckers as a means of communication on the road.

The Importance of Slang in Trucker Culture

Slang has always been an essential aspect of any subculture, and trucker culture is no exception. CB radio slang serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it allows truckers to communicate quickly and efficiently, exchanging vital information without having to go into lengthy explanations. Secondly, it helps create a sense of belonging and identity within the trucker community.

Exploring the Origins of CB Radio Slang

The origins of CB radio slang can be traced back to the need for truckers to communicate with each other on the road. These truckers developed a set of terms and phrases that were easily understood and provided a universal language for communication. Over time, this slang became more complex and nuanced, and today it forms a rich tapestry of expressions that are unique to the trucker culture.

The Meaning and Usage of “What’s Your 20?”

What Does “What’s Your 20?” Actually Mean?

“Whats Your 20?” is one of the most commonly used phrases in CB radio slang. It is a code for asking someone about their current location or whereabouts. The term “20” is derived from the ten-codes, a system of radio codes called the ten-codes that were developed by law enforcement agencies to communicate quickly and efficiently over the radio.

The Relationship Between “What’s Your 20?” and 10-4

The phrase “What’s Your 20?” is intimately connected with the term “10-4” in CB radio slang. While “What’s ur 20?” asks for the location, “10-4” is the response that acknowledges the message and indicates understanding. The term “10-4” is derived from the ten-codes and is used as a general affirmation in CB radio communication.

Examples of “What’s Your 20?” Usage

To better understand the usage of “What’s Your 20?”, let’s consider a couple of examples. Imagine a trucker driving on a highway and encountering heavy traffic. They might ask their fellow trucker on the CB radio, “What’s Your 20? Any idea what’s causing this delay?” Another scenario could involve a trucker looking for directions to a specific shipping address. They might ask, “What’s Your 20? Can you guide me to the right lane?”

10-4, 18-wheeler, jump out boys

In addition to “What’s Your 20?”, there are several other terms and phrases commonly used in CB radio slang. One such phrase is “10-4”, which as mentioned earlier, means affirmative or understood.

Another term is “18-wheeler”, which refers to a truck with a semi-trailer and is commonly used to describe large trucks on the road. “Jump out boys” is another term used for law enforcement officers who actively patrol the highway.

Who Uses CB Radio Slang?

Truckers and the CB Radio Community

CB radio slang is primarily used by truckers as a means of communication. It allows them to connect with one another, share information, and build a sense of camaraderie on the road. Truckers rely on CB radio slang to navigate through traffic, avoid hazards, and stay updated on important information.

Other Industries Adopting CB Radio Slang

While CB radio slang is most commonly associated with truckers, it has found its way into other industries as well. Law enforcement officers, particularly those involved in highway patrol, often use CB radio slang to communicate quickly and effectively.

Additionally, amateur radio operators and off-road enthusiasts frequently use CB radio slang to enhance their communication during outdoor activities.

Related words

CB radio slang is a diverse and expansive language, with many related terms and phrases. Some of these include “10 codes”, which are a set of codes used in radio communication to express specific meanings.

“Truck” is a term that refers to a large vehicle used for transporting goods. And “Communication” is the act of transmitting information between individuals or groups.

Can you explain the origin of the term: “What’s Your 20?” in the dictionary of CB Radio slang?

Absolutely, “What’s Your 20?” is a phrase that originated from the standardized “10-codes” used by the United States law enforcement and it became popular through CB Radio use. The phrase was actually a ten code, specifically “10-20”, used by police back in the 1930s. The “10” in “10-20” is the code for “identify your position” or “location”, whereas “20” in the code stands for “location”.

Over time, it got adopted by truck drivers who started using the term on the CB Radio to communicate with fellow drivers and thus it became part of the trucker’s slang language.

Could you tell me more about the shipping relationship with CB Radio and its slang?

Absolutely! CB Radio has been a long-standing tool used in shipping and transportation. The CB Radio gave truckers a way to communicate with each other while on the road, sharing vital information about road conditions, police presence, or just to keep each other company on long hauls. The specific slang, like “What’s Your 20?”, actually helped drivers to share their location quickly, allowing them to coordinate effectively along their shipping routes.

What is a “channel” in the context of CB Radio usage?

A “channel” on a CB Radio is essentially a specific radio frequency used for transmission. Each CB Radio is equipped with 40 channels standardized by the FCC. This setup allows multiple users to communicate simultaneously without interference.

How has the use of CB Radio slang like “What’s Your 20?” evolved over the years?

Over the years, the use and understanding of the term “What’s Your 20?” has evolved and expanded beyond just trucking and law enforcement. Nowadays, it’s used in many sectors, including many non-commercial organizations. The term has even found its way into the urban dictionary and is used colloquially in various situations, not just those tied to CB Radio.

Did the term “What’s Your 20?” change in relevance during the year 2020?

The term “What’s Your 20?” did not change in its essential meaning in 2020. However, in light of the events of the year, including the global pandemic, it was used more frequently as a way for people to update each other about their situations and locations.

What exactly does 20 mean in CB Radio slang?

In CB Radio slang, “20” stands for location. It’s derived from the police 10-code “10-20”, which means “identify your position” or in simpler terms “What’s your location?”. It is equally used among truck drivers and has been a part of a CB Radio user’s dictionary for years.

How do I properly use the phrase “What’s Your 20?” in a sentence?

When you use “What’s Your 20?” in a sentence, you’re essentially asking someone for their location. An example could be, let’s say you’re using a CB Radio and want to know where a fellow driver is. So, you could say, “Hey, breaker, what’s your 20?”, and they would respond with their current location.

How did the “10-codes” originate and adapt in road language for drivers?

The “10-codes” originated with the United States law enforcement agencies in the 1930s. The idea was to create a standardized, short and simple language to use during radio transmissions. This code language was supposed to minimize misunderstanding over the radio channels.
Truck drivers started using the “10-codes” while communicating on the CB Radio, adding their unique slangs and phrases over time including the famous “What’s Your 20?” term.

What’s the significance of CB Radio in a driver’s life?

CB Radio is a valuable tool for drivers, especially truckers on long-haul routes. It provides a means of communication in regions where cellular signals might be weak. Terms like “What’s Your 20?” made communication quick and precise.
It’s a way to transmit road conditions, police presence, upcoming rest stops, or even just to chat and keep company over those solitary road miles.

Are new CB radio terms like “What’s Your 20?” still being created today?

While the heyday of CB Radio and its unique lexicon was back in the day, some users do still create new terms. However, new terms are less likely to become widespread due to the decreasing use of CB radios and the rise of modern technologies for communication.
Nonetheless, classic terms like “What’s Your 20?” still hold their place and remain relevant in certain sectors.


CB radio slang plays a crucial role in the trucker culture, allowing truckers to communicate quickly and efficiently. The phrase “What’s Your 20?” has become synonymous with asking someone about their location, and it serves as a prime example of the unique language developed within the CB radio community. This slang has not only shaped the way truckers communicate on the road but has also found its way into other industries. So, next time you hop on to the CB radio, don’t forget to ask, “What’s Your 20?” and join in the fascinating world of CB radio slang.

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