Ham Radio Terminology Explained: The Top 20 Must-Know Keywords

Ham radio communication can be daunting for beginners due to the use of technical jargon and terminology. In this article, we will explain the top 20 must-know ham radio terminology keywords in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand manner.

  1. Frequency

Frequency refers to the rate at which a radio wave oscillates and is measured in Hertz (Hz). In ham radio, frequencies are typically expressed in megahertz (MHz) or kilohertz (kHz).

  1. Band

A band is a range of frequencies allocated for a specific purpose. There are several bands in ham radio, including the 2-meter band for local communication and the 20-meter band for long-distance communication.

  1. Antenna

An antenna is a device used to transmit or receive radio waves. Different types of antennas are used in ham radio, such as the dipole, vertical, and Yagi antennas.

  1. DX

DX is a term used to refer to long-distance communication between two ham radio operators.

  1. QSO

QSO refers to a conversation or contact between two ham radio operators.

  1. SWR

SWR stands for Standing Wave Ratio. It measures the efficiency of the antenna system and indicates any issues such as a mismatch between the antenna and the transmitter.

  1. Transceiver

A transceiver combines a transmitter and a receiver into a single unit and is the most common type of radio used in ham radio communication.

  1. QRP

QRP refers to low power operation.

  1. CW

CW stands for Continuous Wave and uses Morse code for communication.

  1. APRS

APRS stands for Automatic Packet Reporting System and allows for the real-time exchange of data such as GPS coordinates, weather reports, and messages.

  1. Ragchew

Ragchew refers to long and casual conversations between ham radio operators.

  1. Net

A net is a scheduled gathering of ham radio operators who discuss specific topics.

  1. Pileup

Pileup is a situation where several ham radio operators simultaneously try to contact a single station.

  1. CQ

CQ is a call for any ham radio operator to respond and establish a contact.

  1. RTTY

RTTY stands for Radio Teletype and is a digital mode of communication that uses a combination of tones and marks for transmitting messages.

  1. SSTV

SSTV stands for Slow-Scan Television and is a method of transmitting images through ham radio.

  1. Dipole

A dipole is an antenna that consists of two conductive elements, usually made of wire, that are connected to the transmitter or receiver.

  1. Yagi

A Yagi is an antenna that consists of several elements, including a driven element, reflector, and several directors.

  1. VOX

VOX stands for Voice Operated eXchange and is a feature that allows the transceiver to switch between transmit and receive modes automatically when the operator speaks.

  1. Mobile

Mobile refers to ham radio equipment that is installed in a vehicle for communication while on the move.


The above-listed ham radio terminology keywords are the most important to know for any beginner in ham radio communication. By understanding these concepts, you can quickly master the language of ham radio and start enjoying the hobby.

To gain practical experience, we recommend joining a local ham radio club or attending a ham radio event in your area. With the help of experienced ham radio operators, you can deepen your understanding of ham radio technology.