Is It Work?

Ned, WB4BKO, writes, “Why do we say that we’ve ‘worked’ someone when we have contacted them? For me, making contacts is a pleasure, not work. I think that we should change this bit of ham radio jargon.”

I think that Ned has a point. While it’s true that working some guys is a strain, for the most part, it’s a lot of fun.

What do you think? Should we change our terminology or leave well enough alone? How did making contacts come to be called ‘working’ in the first place?


  1. If we use as a basis for the description, it shows the following which seem ok to represent a contact via ham radio:

    – productive or operative activity

    – to operate (a mine, farm, etc.) for productive purposes

    – to carry on operations in (a district or region).

    – to achieve or win by work or effort

    – and probably many more in what is a very long definition.


  2. John AD7QQ says:

    I think we should leave well enough alone. Some of my most satisfying contacts have involved lots of hunting, adjustments and working the pack to get through. The increased effort increased the satisfaction and pleasure. When I hear that someone “worked” a station, I receive a mix of sensations: that someone has wrestled a difficult “opponent” (nature, QRN, QRM) and conquered it, that it took skill and effort, and that it involved receiving a just compensation of satisfaction.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
    John B

  3. Not sure about the origins of “worked,” but if you were to say “I pleasured WW2PT” my wife would probably divorce me…

  4. Karen KD8JUN says:

    For myself, I have no idea where the term came from; nor does my father, W8RSJ, who’s been a ham since 1954. I personally like “worked,” but if it doesn’t work for someone, then maybe they shouldn’t use it!

  5. Dan! Not you too. I agree with Karen. Worked is an idiom that has been around for decades and likely has roots in spark gap equipment. Radio has several others we all use. Nearly every hobby has a special phrases or words. So my vote is with just letting them be. Making radio phrases plain language just makes it all so bland.

  6. Mike - WM4B says:

    It’s amazing to me that people are so interested in CHANGING things that are part of our heritage! I saw something a while back about getting rid of the word ‘Elmer’, and now ‘worked’ is under the gun. Are we going to also get rid of ‘ham’, ‘rig’, and ‘fist’, too? Where does it end?

  7. Dan KB6NU says:

    It’s amazing to me that this post has garnered six comments. :)

    I get the message on this one–you all want to keep this bit of jargon. Just be sure that when you’re talking to non-hams that you say that you’ve “contacted” a station, rather than “worked” a station. Most folks won’t know what you’re talking about.

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