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
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.
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
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