Your 20: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 28, 2023

The phrase "your 20" primarily finds its place in the lexicon of law enforcement and radio communications, signifying one's location. Even though its use is most prevalent in these sectors, it has percolated into everyday language. When you hear "What's your 20?" it simply translates to "What's your location?" or "Where are you?" It's a succinct and swift method of inquiring about someone's whereabouts.

In short:

  • "Your 20" refers to the question about someone's current location.
  • The phrase is frequently used in radio communications, especially among law enforcement.

What Does "Your 20" Mean?

"Your 20" is a term that primarily represents your current geographical location. The phrase derives from the 10-code system used by law enforcement and radio communicators. In this code system, "10-20" means "What is your location?"; hence, "20" has become a shorthand for location.

Let's delve into its fundamental meanings and usage:

  • "Your 20" implies the question about one's current whereabouts or location. It's typically used in police radio communication but has seeped into everyday language, especially in North America.
  • It's a swift and effective way of asking someone where they are, particularly useful in situations demanding quick responses or updates, such as emergencies or logistical situations.
  • Although its usage might not be widespread globally, it's a well-known term in the United States and Canada, largely due to its frequent use in popular culture, such as films and television series featuring law enforcement.
  • Similar phrases to "your 20" include "What's your location?" or "Where are you right now?"

Where Does "Your 20" Come From?

The term "your 20" originates from the 10-code system—a form of shorthand radio communication language primarily used by law enforcement agencies. Specifically, "10-20" stands for location, leading to the usage of "20" as a synonym for location.

Historical Example

"'What's your 20?' Jim's wife, Barbara, and Judy Cleaver, a few miles back in a green Dodge chase truck respond."

- American Motorcyclist, Aug 1976

10 Examples of "Your 20" in Sentences

For a more concrete understanding of how to use this phrase, let's look at some examples drawn from various contexts:

  • While coordinating the rescue mission, the team leader asked, "What's your 20?" to keep track of everyone's location.
  • He asked, "Where’s your 20?" It’s nunya business, that’s where.
  • "Can you give me your 20?" I sighed, exasperated; of course, the bane of my life was late again to our meeting.
  • The delivery service used the phrase "What's your 20?" to ascertain the driver's location during their route.
  • While tracking a suspect, a detective might radio his partner asking, "What's your 20?"
  • I heard the engine roar and asked with an eyebrow raised, "Your 20? Did you turn bougee and purchase that fancy sports car?"
  • During a hike, the leader may frequently check "What's your 20?" to ensure all participants are safe and accounted for.
  • In military operations, the command center might ask, "What's your 20?" to keep a tab on the soldiers' positions.
  • Why don't you take the initiative for once and tell me your 20?
  • As I watched the leaves fall, I wondered where my friend was and sent a quick text, "What's your 20? You should be clocking in soon."

Examples of "Your 20" in Pop Culture

The phrase "your 20" often appears in pop culture, predominantly in contexts involving law enforcement or similar areas.

Let's review some examples:

  • In the TV episode "Diamond in the Rough" from the series "Modern Family" (2012), the character Jay Pritchett uses the phrase, "Baby, what's your 20?"
  • The TV series "Warframe" (2003–2023) includes an episode titled "What's Your 20."
  • In her 2011 music video "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," Martina McBride is associated with the phrase "What's Your 20?"
  • Lee Ann Womack's 2011 CMT appearance is titled "What's Your 20?"
  • The TV series "Fear The Walking Dead" includes a clip titled "What's Your 20."

Other Ways to Say "Your 20"

There are a number of other phrases that carry a similar meaning to "your 20."

Here are a few:

  • Where are you?
  • What's your position?
  • Where are you located?
  • What's your current location?
  • What's your spot?
  • Where do you stand?
  • Where can you be found?

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Your 20":

  • What does "your 20" mean?

"Your 20" is a phrase that originates from radio communication, specifically from the 10-code system used by law enforcement and other public service agencies. It means "your location".

  • How can I use "your 20" in a sentence?

You can use "your 20" when asking about someone's location. For instance, you might say, "We need to go back to the grind; can you give me your 20?" when you want to know where someone is.

  • Is "your 20" used commonly in everyday language?

"Your 20" is not typically used in everyday casual conversation. Its use is more common in specific contexts, like in police or radio communications.

  • Is the term "your 20" understood universally?

While "your 20" is widely understood within law enforcement and public service sectors in many English-speaking countries, it might not be easily recognized by people unfamiliar with 10-code language.

  • Can "your 20" be used in text messages?

Yes, it can be used in text messages, particularly if both parties understand its meaning. However, its use might be seen as jargon or code to those unfamiliar with the term.

  • Are there other codes similar to "your 20"?

Yes, "your 20" is part of the 10-code system, which includes various other codes like "10-4" for "understood" and "10-9" for "repeat".

  • Does "your 20" have any other meanings?

While "your 20" predominantly means "your location", its exact interpretation can depend on context. It is important to clarify meaning if there is any chance of misunderstanding.

  • Can "your 20" be used in formal contexts?

"Your 20" is generally considered informal or even jargon, thus it might not be suitable for formal or academic contexts.

  • Is "your 20" used globally?

As a term from the English-language 10-code system, "your 20" is used primarily in English-speaking countries, particularly in sectors like law enforcement. It might not be recognized or used in other linguistic and cultural contexts.

  • Does the usage of "your 20" vary across professions?

Yes, "your 20" is more frequently used in professions involving radio communication, like law enforcement and emergency services. Its usage is less common in other fields.

Final Thoughts About "Your 20"

The phrase "your 20" comes from radio talk, and it's all about speaking clearly and directly, especially when time matters. It's a short way to ask "Where are you?" which is really important in many jobs.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Your 20" is a term originating from the 10-code language, and it stands for "your location."
  • While it's more common in specific fields like law enforcement, the phrase "your 20" can be understood in broader contexts, provided the listeners are familiar with 10 codes.
  • Even though "your 20" isn't widely used in everyday language, it still serves as a great example of how specific jargon can facilitate rapid and efficient communication.

While "your 20" might not be a phrase you'll hear every day, it holds a key place in the language of professions that rely on swift, clear-cut communication.

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