Roger that – Meaning (with 5 examples) + Origin and alternatives

If you’ve ever given an order (even if it wasn’t meant in that way), you may well have heard “roger that” as a response to it. Even if you haven’t specifically been the one to give the order, you’ve either used it yourself or heard it used. It’s quite a common saying, especially in film and television, so you’ll definitely have noticed it before.

But what exactly does it mean? Or, to put it better, where did it come from, and why has it risen to popularity? “Roger” is a male first name, so why has it become such a popular response to an order.

What Does “Roger That” Mean?

“Roger that” means that you have received the message or order loud and clear and have perfectly understood it. It can either be in response to someone telling you to do something or someone letting you know that something might have been changed or needs doing. Either way, “roger that” is a suitable response to tell the messenger that you understand what they’re saying and asking of you.

It is a prevalent saying, especially in military or aviation practices. That goes to show how valued it is in daily life. Sometimes, phrases like “roger that” are considered too colloquial or too slang to be used in military methods, but “roger that” managed to make it through. There are some solid reasons for this that we’ll get to later.

You can use “roger that” in just about any aspect of life too. If you wanted, you could say it to your mother when she asks you to pop to your local market for some food. Usually, though you’re using it with friends or family, it’s often seen as more of a joke and informal slang and is often laughed at or reciprocated with equal jest.

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What Is The Origin Of “Roger That”?

“Roger that” dates right back to the early days of aviation and flight testing. It first appeared in radio transmissions when the staff was broadcasting clearance to the pilots. When they received and understood the message, pilots would send a radio transmission back in morse code, which was usually the single letter “R.” This “R” originally meant “received.”

However, as time went on and technology advanced, people started to use “Roger” in place of the letter. Now that technology was capable of more, morse code wasn’t necessary to speak to your staff. Instead, pilots would say “Roger” in response to a message to let staff know that they’d received it loud and clear. It was accepted very quickly that “Roger” was a lot easier (and a lot clearer) than saying “received” was.

It became so common, in fact, that in 1927, the International Telegraph Conference Union used “Roger” as the letter “R” in the phonetic alphabet. Again, it was easier to interpret than most other words starting with the letter. It wasn’t until years later, when they redid the alphabet, that “Romeo” became the phonetic word for the letter, though “Romeo” never carried the same meaning as “Roger.”

Why Has “Roger That” Become So Popular?

Several reasons could attribute to the growth of “roger that” in the mainstream. Most of it comes down to film and television, especially military-based movies. Most people who would sit through these movies often didn’t have military experience themselves, so they learned everything from the big screen and the actors. This is where the start of the popularity for “roger that” came from.

“Roger that” would often be used in a joking way to let a friend know that you’ve received their message. People would often recreate their favorite scenes from these movies and reenact radio conversations. Sometimes, these are then followed by a noise made that sounds like a crackling radio.

It quickly became apparent that “roger that” was the appropriate response to letting someone know you’ve understood their message in the military. It quickly became the main way to communicate, and “received” was completely removed from the dictionary, as it were. Now, people still use “roger that” in the military so that the messengers understand that they received the message with no need for further elaboration.

5 Examples Of How To Use “Roger That.”

There are plenty of examples available for using “roger that” in conversations. You don’t always need to be in a military scenario either when you use it now. You could just as easily use it with your friends, or even if you’re part of a team (like listening to a coach’s team talk at half-time).

  • Coach: “I need you all to focus up and get that last touchdown.”
  • Team captain: “Roger that.”

Here, the coach asks for the team’s focus, and the team captain wants to let him know that he understands the “roger that” phrase.

  • Mom: “Can you get the dishes cleaned when you get a minute, please.”
  • Son: “Roger that.”

A typical, albeit jokey, way to reply to a parent asking you to do something.

  • Messenger: “The airspace is all clear up ahead.”
  • Pilot: “Roger that.”

A real scenario that could happen in aviation authorities. It’s used to let pilots know that the airspace is clear and can be flown through, and the pilot says “roger that” in response.

  • Sergeant: “Do not take action until I tell you too.”
  • Cadet: “Roger that.”

Another scenario that was used but in the military this time. A higher-ranking officer gives an order, and the lower-ranking one confirms he understands it.

  • Dad: “Can you get me some snacks from the shops?”
  • Son: “Roger that.”

Another jokey way to talk to your parents after they give you an order.

Alternatives To Saying “Roger That.”

  • “Sir, yes, sir.”

Another military phrase means you understand what your commanding officer has asked of you. It’s also a sign of great respect to them.

  • “I’m on it.”

An informal way of letting someone know you’re ready to do what they asked of you or that you understand the mission or task.

  • “Understood.”

It’s a simple way to tell someone that you understand what they’re saying or asking of you, though it’s a bit more length to say than “Roger” would be.