What's the origin of the phrase "roger"?

John Vapensky handed me a little scrap of paper in the hall one day asking about the radio-telephony expression Roger. The origin of this phrase, which means "Yes, O.K., I understand you" dates back to the earliest days of wireless communication, when the Morse code letter R (dit-dah-dit) was used to indicate "O.K.--understood." As communications advanced to include voice capabilities, the military alpha code (Able, Baker, Charlie, etc.) was used as a logical extension of such single character responses. R=Roger=understood.

Of course, you always hear "Roger, Wilco, Over and Out" in terse military dramas. The additional verbiage means (Wilco) "Will Comply", (Over) "Message Complete--Reply Expected", and (Out) "Message Complete--No Reply Expected".

In other words, "Roger, Wilco, Over and Out" parses to a contradictory nonsense phrase. Oops. Research 1--Hollywood 0.

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