Five by five

Meaning

What does Five by five mean?

Five by five is an expression mainly used in radio communications and military.

It is meant to inform the listener that the connection is good, and the signal is clear.

In daily speech, however, it means that you are feeling good, everything is fine and all is well.

Its an alternative, creative way to respond when someone says “How are you?”.

Origin

What's the origin of Five by five?

Radiotelegraph signal reporting formats have two signalling systems: one is signal strength, the other is the intelligibility of said signals. Both go from 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good).

So if one side of the radio communication asks for the status of the others signal, they can respond Five by five to inform them that the signal is good, loud and clear.

Spread & Usage

How did Five by five spread?

The phrase used as a daily “how are you” setting was first done by character Faith Lehane from the late 1990’s show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

It was also used by a pilot in the movie “Aliens”, to signal that they are well on course.

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