23 Skidoo

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Oct 3 18:40:54 UTC 2002

On 10/2/02 at 9:16:23 AM Eastern Daylight Time I quoted the following from


<Begin quote>
 The late etymologist Eric Partridge reported that one of his correspondents
felt that the phrase might have had its roots in old telegraphers' code,
where common phrases were replaced by numbers. In this code, "30" sent in
Morse code meant "end of transmission" (a notation still used by journalists
to signal the end of a story), "73" meant "best regards" (still very much in
use by amateur radio operators), and "23" meant "away with you!" This seems a
far more likely explanation of the phrase.
<end quote>

I have since found a copy of the Phillips code on-line at URL

This Web page gives the following list of numbers and the phrases they

WIRE- Preference            25- Busy on anr wire
   over everything          26- Put on gnd wire
   except 95                27- Priority, very
1- Wait a moment                important
2- Important business       28- Do you get my
3- What time is it?             writing?
4- Where shall I go         29- Private, deliver in
   ahead?                       sealed envelope.
5- Have you business        30- No more -end
   for me?                  31- Form 31 train
6- I am ready                   order
7- Are you ready?           32- I understand that
8- Close your key;              I am to .........
   ckt is busy              33- Car report (Also,
9- Close your key for           answer is paid for)
   priority business        34- Msg for all officers
   (wire chief, dspr,       35- You may use my
   etc.)                        signal to ans this
10- Keep this ckt           37- Diversion
    closed                      (Also, inform all
12- Do you under-               interested)
    stand?                  39- Important, with
13- I understand                priority on thru
14- What is the                 wire. (Also, sleep-
    weather?                    car report)
15- For you and             44- Answer promptly
    and other to copy           by wire
17- Lightning here          73- Best regards
18- What is the             88- Love and kisses
    trouble?                91- Supt's signal
19- Form 19 train           92- Deliver promptly
    order                   93- Vice pres. & gen.
21- Stop for meal               mgr's signals
22- Wire test               95- President's signal
23- All copy                134- Who is at the
24- Repeat this back             key?

While it is possible that some telegraphers used a different meaning for
"23", this particular Phillips Code dictionary says that "23" means "all
copy", an instruction with no obvious connection to "skidoo".

         - Jim Landau

More information about the Ads-l mailing list