The Secret (and Kinda Hilarious) Language of Truck Drivers

If you’ve ever watched Smokey and the Bandit, or any movie with a trucker in it, you already instinctively know what I’m talking about when I say that truckers have their own secret language. Technically, it’s called an argot, a secret sublanguage of sorts that forms in tight-knit groups. Think A Clockwork Orange, and you’ve got the idea.

And if you’re not a trucker, it sounds pretty damn hilarious.

I've compiled a fairly comprehensive glossary of terms truckers use over their CB radios and put them into sentences so you can fully appreciate the unique rhythms and flowery cadence of trucker-speak. A few of these gems you may even try adopting as everyday colloquialisms. "Stack them eights" sounds like something cool The Dude would say, does it not?

Flickr/Paul Sullivan

Glossary of Trucker-Speak

Driver: A trucker. Only truckers are drivers.

Four-wheeler: You/non-truckers

Seat cover: Passengers in your car. Usually, this refers to an attractive female passenger, in a sort of “check out the seat cover in the four-wheeler about to pass you” sense.

Semipro: A big pickup-driving bro that thinks he’s a “trucker"

Bumper sticker: A car that tailgates egregiously

Thumber: Hitchhiker

Suicide jockey: A driver hauling a dangerous substance, like fuel, explosives, etc.

Go to Sesame Street: Turn your CB radio to Channel 19 (the most commonly used channel)

Reading the mail: Just lurking on the radio, usually on Sesame Street

Keying up: Talking all the time on the channel, cutting other truckers off in the process

Got a clean shot: There are no law-enforcement officers on the road ahead

Paying the water bill: Stopping to pee

Flickr/Einar Jørgen Haraldseid

Smokey Bear: State trooper, so-called because of the big hat. Often shortened to bear.

Full-grown bear: Also a state trooper, usually used to denote one taking the formality of his job (uniform, hat, car, mustache) way too seriously

Feeding the bears: Getting pulled over. Also called getting an invitation.

Bear bait: A speeding four-wheeler that drivers hope bears latch onto come feeding time

Bear trap: Speed trap or inspection zone

County mounty: Sheriff deputy​

Evel Knievel: Motorcycle cop

Kojak with a Kodak: An officer (Kojak) with his radar gun out and pointed at traffic, like a camera (Kodak)

Diesel bear: Officer specializing in commercial-vehicles enforcement, i.e. trucks

Care Bear: Cop or patrolman at a construction site directing traffic

Mama bear: A female officer

Bear in the air: Aircraft enforcement of the speed limit is in the area

Bear den: Police HQ

Local yokel: City cop

Brush your teeth and comb your hair: Get ready, there’s an officer shooting his radar gun up ahead

Flickr/Alan Stark

Big road: The interstate

Fifty-dollar lane: Fast lane

Double nickel: 55mph, which used to be the speed limit on interstates

Fog line: The white line on the side of the highway, used as a guide when you can’t see anything else

Gators: Busted tires on the side of every highway. Run them over, and they’ll bite you.

Wiggle wagon: A truck with multiple trailers connected to each other

Toothpicks: Lumber, because those huge trees look like tiny toothpicks when stacked on a truck

Chicken lights: All those extra lights on the side and top of a trailer

Georgia overdrive: Coasting down a hill to save gas

Riding a cradle: Tucking in between two trucks on the highway

Motion lotion: Diesel, i.e. fuel needed to keep on trucking

Lot lizard: A girlfriend, of the professional variety, available to, um, rent for a few minutes at a truck stop parking lot or rest area. Also called commercial company.

Pickle park: A rest area or truck stop. I’ll leave the reason why to your own imagination.

Flickr/Kevin Trotman

Donkey: Behind you, kind of like “on your six” in aviation terms

Front door: In front of you

Back door: Behind you, but not quite so close as to be on your donkey

Over your shoulder: Also coming up behind you, but in your past, as in asking if you’ve passed any cops lately

Through the woods: Taking the backroads

Credit-card machine: A very narrow bridge that makes it feel like you’re a small card getting rung up at a cashier

Having shutter trouble: Having difficulty staying awake

West Coast turnarounds: Speed (pills), taken to help with shutter trouble

Out of town: On the way out of a city, back on the road

Hammer down: Putting the pedal to the metal

Stack them eights: So long, and good luck

Flickr/Atomic Hot Links

​What they say:

"With all those drivers keying up on Sesame Street no one told me to brush my teeth and comb my hair! County mounty almost gave me an invite. If anyone’s reading the mail I’m heading through the woods now, hammer down with a clean shot.”

Translation: With all those truckers constantly talking on the main radio channel, no one warned me about the speed trap up ahead. The sheriff’s deputy almost gave me a ticket. If anyone’s listening, I’m on the backroads now, speeding along with no sign of cops.

What they say:

"That semipro was a bumper sticker on my donkey right up until a suicide jockey came up the back door and cradled him. I’m sure that grill in his mirrors made him pay the water bill, ‘cause he got over and put the hammer down."

Translation: That pickup was tailgating behind me until a truck with a dangerous load got behind him and pinned him between us. I bet seeing it in his mirror made him piss himself 'cause he immediately got over and sped off.

What they say:

"Bear bait blew right past Kojak with a Kodak, but Evel Knievel caught him and made him feed the bears.”

Translation: That speeding car went right past the officer using his radar gun, but the motorcycle cop caught him and gave him a ticket.

What they say:

"I’m a couple miles off your front door just past the credit-card machine. Just paid the water bill and that pickle park is swarming with lot lizards. Stack them eights, I’m out of town and hammer down."

Translation: I’m a couple miles in front of you, just past the really narrow bridge. I just stopped to pee and that rest stop is swarming with prostitutes. Good luck, I’m back on the road and going fast.

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Aaron Miller is the Cars editor for Thrillist, and can be found on Twitter. Give him a clean shot through the woods and he'll be hammer down and happy.