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What Does 73 Mean in Ham Radio? – Detailed Explanation

Written by R. Pennington / Fact checked by R. Combs

what does 73 mean in ham radio

When you first take up ham radio as a hobby, the endless ham radio jargon and codes might feel overwhelming. But don’t get discouraged! They are meant to take your communication to the next level.

A popular coding system you might stumble across is the 92 system, which uses ham number codes from one to 92 as abbreviations for messages, with the number 73 being one of the most used. So, what does 73 mean in ham radio?

In 1857, the number’s meaning was “My Love to You” – a way of saying goodbye. Later, its meaning changed to Sincerely or Best Regards and has since remained the same.

What Does “73” Mean in Ham Radio?


Throughout history, the ham radio 73 code has adopted several meanings. These days, it can mean Best Regards, Sincerely, Goodbye, Thanks, or Hope to see you soon. You can think about it as a brief and unique way to end a conversation on ham radio.

The usage of ‘73’ isn’t limited to on-air transmissions. Many operators write it at the end of their text messages, emails, or social media posts. It is not only for quick communication but also a reminder of the honorable tradition of ham radio language.

Sometimes, you might see the code 88 used in place of 73, especially when the transmitters are one male and one female. What does 88 mean? The code stands for Love and Kisses, which is often used between husband and wife.

To further shorten the language, some operators might only say “eights” as a ham radio slang for 88.

The Origins of ‘73’

The first authentic radio code list – the National Telegraphic Review Operator’s Guide – was published in 1857.

At that time, number 73 meaning was My Love to You. It didn’t stay that way for long, however. Two years later, in the list ‘92 code’ created by Walter P. Phillips and published by Western Union, 73’s meaning changed to My Compliments or Best Regards.

But why did radio communicators spend time and effort developing a coding system? Isn’t it easier just to use plain English? Here are a few reasons why ham radio codes were invented:

  • Avoid repeated messages

When operators started to use ham radios, they soon realized that they were sending the same messages multiple times in conversations, such as “Are you ready?” “I understand,” “Repeat,” and “Best Regards.”

A coding system that is agreed upon and used worldwide should free them from the mundane and redundant repetition.

  • Save time

People often transmit important information (e.g., warning about a traffic jam, blocked road, or accident) and call for emergency help on the radio. Since time is precious in such situations, clear and shortened forms of language are preferable.

  • Cut cost and improve efficiency

Back when telegraphs were the only means of delivering messages, people had to invent abbreviations to reduce the use of bandwidth, which was super limited at that time. Short messages are also sent faster via telegraph lines.

The 92 Code

Many radio hobbyists know that 73 signals the end of a conversation according to the Phillips Code, which has another name – the 92 Code. This system was published by the Western Union Company in 1859.

The ham radio acronyms list provided in the document is relatively similar to that of the National Telegraphic Review Operator’s Guide published two years earlier. It is a list of numerals from one to 92, representing 92 common messages.

The most popular codes in this list are ham radio 73 88 44, which stands respectively for Best Regards, Love and Kisses, and Answer promptly by Wire.

Many other numbers and messages were forgotten and misused throughout the long history of ham radio, but some abbreviations remain until today, including:

  • Number 1 stands for Wait a Minute
  • Number 6 for I am ready
  • Number 13 for I do not understand
  • Number 27 for Priority, very important
  • Number 92 for Deliver

Sometimes, you can find these codes in plural forms, such as 73s or 88s. However, it is incorrect to do so. Since 73 means Regards, 73s would stand for “Regardss,” which doesn’t make sense.



Why does 73 mean best regards?

The origin of 73 dated back to 1859 when Walter P. Phillips created the 92 Code, which is understood and used among operators in the Western Union lines.

In this coding system, a list of numbers was used in replacement of common messages. The creator happened to choose the number 73 for the phrase “Best regards.”

How do you say thank you in ham radio?

You can use the letters TNX or TKS. Alternatively, you can use the code “73” to say Thanks or Best regards.

What does 75 mean in ham radio?

It refers to the 80-meter or 80/75 meter band, which ranges from 3.5 to 4 MHz. This band suits short-distance communication only, as its signals can be plagued with noise.

What does 59 mean in the R-S-T system?

In the R-S-T (Readability – Strength – Tone) system developed by Arthur W. Braaten in 1934, code 59 stands for a readable and strong signal.


So, what does 73 mean in ham radio? What is 73 the best number for? The code often appears at the end of transmission simply to say best regards, sincerely, or thanks.

Ham radio is an interesting pursuit, but it also requires time and dedication. The further you dive into it, the more fascinating it will become.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out more articles on our website for the best ham radio reviews. Thank you for reading!

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