Surfin': Seeking the Origin of CQ


The language of Amateur Radio includes unique words and phrases; words and phrases hams use every day without thinking about them. A visit to AC6V's Jargon Web page will show you most of it.

"CQ" is probably the most common idiom hams use. It is so common that even the civilians that populate a ham's family are familiar with the phrase. I can recall numerous occasions when my wife, daughter, sister, mother and/or father commented to someone or other that I was up in the ham shack "calling CQ, CQ, CQ..."

It always did my heart good to overhear those comments because it meant that they were paying attention to what I was doing -- so much so that they were getting some ham radio into their system by osmosis.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that CQ was a short way of sending the phrase "seek you" using Morse code and that its usage became so ingrained in the ham radio nation that hams used the letters for voice operations, too.

Yes and no.

I looked it up on the Internet, and Wikipedia does a good job describing the history of CQ. I will not steal their thunder and I will let you read it for yourself, but here is some interesting CQ trivia that Wikipedia mentions:

Did you know that Herman Munster called CQ in an episode of The Munsters?

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: To communicate with Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, save a tree and send him e-mail instead or add comments to his blog. By the way, every installment of Surfin' is indexed here, so go look it up.

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor