Do you copy me?


Senior Member

in an old Scifi movie I heard the Phrase: "Do you copy me?"
Considering the context, it means: can you/do you receive my (radio wave) message? Do you hear me?

Is this meaning of "to copy" in general usage, or is it, for example, old?

Is this meaning also included in the word "copy" in "copy right"?
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Is this meaning of "to copy" in general usage?

    I associate this usage with the military. It is used incessantly in the Stargate series (Sci-fi), as well as in many other military adventures that take place since the radio came into common use.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    I consider the usage dated, but not obsolete. "Copy" was used frequently back during the CB radio craze in the U.S. in the early 1960s. See Wikipedia about a song called Convoy from that era. The lyrics, including "copy," are found here.

    My impression is that the expression dates from early telegraphy when operators wrote down, i.e. copied, each letter as it was transmitted in Morse code.

    Amateur radio enthusiasts have their own expressions and I cannot speak for them.


    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    It's very common to hear this in the context of radio communications. I find it quite bizarre that I can't find it in any dictionary.

    Since radio works by converting audio into electrical signals then radio waves and back again, I imagine that the original meaning is something like "Is your radio duplicating the sound of my voice correctly?".


    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    Originally, it was a pilot's jargon: to you understand what I'm saying, do I come through clearly, can you hear me clearly. It has been used (adopted) by radio operators in the military and more recently by amateur radio enthusiasts as well as professional truckers in the USA, I believe.

    It is still used nowadays in a jocular or sarcastic way, as most people would understand its meaning: speaking to a child, "I told you to put all your clothes away, do you copy?" (do you understand what I'm saying to you?). An suitable sarcastic response would be "wilco" (I will comply).


    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    When I was in the Navy - through the turn of the century* - we would use "How copy?" on voice circuits to ask "How well do you receive/understand me?"

    * Hey, I don't get to use that phrase often. :D