Some of the old classic trucking movies, like Smokey and the Bandit, and Convoy are filled with CB lingo. We can’t imagine either of those movies without the truckers' own secret language. Technically, it’s called an argot, a secret sublanguage of sorts that forms in tight-knit groups. The most famous of which is perhaps the British Cockney rhyming slang.The meanings of the terms change from time to time and also vary from region to region. The use of the radio has changed too. Few professional drivers use the CB to communicate nowadays. The CB is really a part of the history of the trucking industry and it's sad to see its use dwindle.
We've listed some terms truckers use over their CB radios so everyone can fully appreciate the unique rhythms and flowery cadence of trucker-speak. We may even try adopting a few of these gems as everyday colloquialisms.
Clearly, the guy who came up with the trucker slang for lumber had a great sense of humor. Oh, in case you are wondering... Yes, the truckers' word for hauling around a massive pile of lumber is toothpicks. This makes us want to be truckers so bad. Where do we sign up?
19 Seat Cover
It's very rare that there's someone else in the truck on the passenger side, but if there's a hot chick there, truckers often call her a "seat cover." This also applies to passengers in cars on the road, meaning a trucker might say to another, "Wait until you see that seat cover in that four-wheeler coming up your back door."
18 Bear Den
Truckers call police officers and state troopers "bears." So, guess what they call the place where police officers hang out? No, not the donut shop - the other place they hang out. That's right, they call any sort of police or state trooper headquarters a "Bear Den." You have to admit it's pretty darn hilarious.
17 Various Bears
There are different bears out there. A "Care Bear" is a police officer who's out directing traffic at a construction site or when there's been an accident. A "full-grown bear" is a state trooper who takes his job way too seriously, being all formal about things and having his uniform and hat perfect. Of course, that means a female state trooper is a "Mama Bear."
16 Evel Knievel
The truck driver Cledus Snow from Smokey and the Bandit embodied pretty much everything that a truck driver should be, and one of his best lines in the movie was "You know who that is? That be the Evel Knievel. He snuck in my back door when I wasn't lookin'." "Evel Knievel," who was a motorcycle stuntman, means a motorcycle cop.
15 Local Yokel
We've already established that truck drivers have a name for pretty much every single type of police officer or state trooper around, but most of the police officers a long-distance trucker deals with are state troopers. Those times they do have to deal with a local officer, you can be sure that they have a name for that, too. Truck drivers call local officers "Local Yokels."
Ever driven past the scene of an accident? Rubbernecks are those annoying people who drive vehicles on the opposite side of the road of an accident scene, slowing down their traffic lanes for no reason other than to look at the accident scene. We've gotta admit that the truckers have a nicer word for them than we do.
A semi-pro is a guy who drives a big pickup truck and acts like he's a trucker. You know, that guy who always has to act and talk bigger than he really is - a wannabe! Truckers might not expect much from people, but they also don't have a lot of respect for those who drive a Dodge Ram and act like they're driving a big rig.
12 Big Word
It simply means "Closed" when referring to weigh stations. There is often a big sign preceding the weigh station indicating whether the station is open or closed. From a distance, you can't tell what the word says, but you can usually tell whether it's a big word or a small word. So, when you hear "the big word is out", you'll know that the weigh station is closed.
11 Four-Letter Word
Trucker lingo doesn't always have to be something fancy or funny. "Four-letter word" is the opposite of the "Big Word" above, it means "Open," and is referring to weigh stations being open. Other terms; "Checking ground pressure," which also means the weigh station is open and they're running trucks across the scales - also known as "running you across."
10 Brake Check
If you hear them talking about brake checks, chances are that they're not actually talking about testing the brakes. It means that there is a traffic tie-up ahead, which will require immediate slowing down or stopping - as in: "You've got a brake check ahead of you." We're really starting to appreciate all this secret info.
9 Go To Company
This is what you say when you tell another driver from your company to go to the designated company CB channel. Drivers do this so that they can talk about company business or personal matters without monopolizing the channel. Occasionally there are some things that don't have to be broadcast to everyone.
8 Kojak With A Kodak
Kojak was an old television show about a cop, and a Kodak is a brand of camera. So, when they're saying there's a "Kojak with a Kodak," they're telling other truckers that there's a speed trap up ahead, where a cop is pointing his radar gun like a camera. When a trucker sees a speed trap up ahead, he's sure to let all his fellow truckers know about it.
7 Georgia Overdrive
A "Georgia Overdrive" is when a truck driver in a big 18-wheeler is coasting down a hill, but there's more to it than that. When he puts the transmission in neutral, it can get rid of the governor that keeps the truck from speeding up, and if the hill is steep enough, the driver can pick up a lot of speed.
6 Paying The Water Bill
Truckers are no different than the rest of us, they still have to go to a rest stop or even get off the highway when nature calls. When a truck driver has to do this, they say to others that they have to "Pay the water bill." Talk about poetry.
5 Got A Clean Shot
A lot of the lingo that truck drivers use has to do with dealing with police officers. Maybe because the cops really can throw a wrench in the works if they pull you over. When they say you "have a clean shot", it means that there are no cops on the road up ahead and you can go as fast as you want without worrying about being pulled over.
4 Hammer Down
If you're a trucker and you're going as fast as you possibly can with the pedal to the metal, then in trucker lingo, you're "putting the hammer down." Some of these trucks have governors built into them so they can't go over the speed limit. But every once in a while, you see one just screaming down the road, and that's a trucker putting the hammer down.
When a trucker gets on the CB and says "Careful, there's a gator up the road", it means that there's a big chunk of a blown tire laying on the road. Why gator? Perhaps because a large piece of rubber looks a bit like a lazy alligator that's relaxing in the sun?
2 Big Road
Truckers spend a lot of time on the road, that is literally their job. These roads range from windy country roads to the widest of highways, and all of these roads have different names in trucker lingo. The "Big Road" is the Interstate, where truckers spend most of their time.
1 Through The Woods
We already told you what the Big Road was, but even a truck driver can't be on the interstate or the highway all the time. When the driver says he's going "through the woods", this doesn't necessarily mean a wooded country road. The point of the saying is that the driver's taking the backroads and not the main route.