What Does Over and Out Mean?

Over and Out Meaning

Definition: Transmission complete.

People often use this when communicating by radio.

Origin of Over and Out

This expression comes from ham radio communication. In order to effectively communicate, each side had to state when they were done talking. This let the other side know they could begin their reply. If a radio operator did not use a signal, the lines between the two parties could become crossed and neither party would hear the other.

over and out definitionTo solve this problem, operators used the word over to signal that they were finished talking and were turning over the line to the other side, expecting a response. When a person had nothing left to say and was ready to leave, he or she would signal this by saying over and out. Over and out is a common expression in popular culture.

However, in actual radio transmission, the words over and out signal different things. Over signals that the operator has finished a transmission and is awaiting a reply from the other side. Out signals that the operator has finished a transmission and expects nothing back from the other side. To use the terms together is a bit of a non sequitur.

Radio communication was invented in the late 1800s, so this expression likely developed shortly after that.

Examples of Over and Out

roger and out meaningHere is an example in which two roommates are playing with some walkie talkies.

Mario: Hey, Axel, check out these cool walkie talkies I just bought!

Axel: Why would you need those? Can’t you just use your cell phone?

Mario: I got them in case there was some emergency where we needed to communicate and the phone lines weren’t working, and there was no Internet. You never know when these will come in handy!

Axel: I guess you’re right. So how do we use these?

Mario: So you push this button to talk. And you can’t talk while I’m talking, so I say over when I’m done talking. This means I’m turning over the channel to you, so that you can talk.

Axel: That doesn’t sound too hard.

Mario: And when you’re done talking completely, and aren’t going to use the walkie talkie anymore, you can just say over and out.

Axel: Let’s try it. I’m using the walkie talkie. Over.

Mario: Great job! Over.

Axel: Okay. I think I get it. I’m going to go to bed. Over and out.

More Examples

This excerpt is about someone using the expression to signal the end of a conversation over a walkie-talkie.

The Camp Tripwire sentry covered his eyes from a wind-whipped blast of sand. A rotund man from Arizona in full military field regalia, he carried several weapons and a walkie-talkie. “Post to base,” he said. “There’s a visitor who wants to enter.”

Given the approval, he barked: “OK. Over and out.” –LA Times

The second excerpt uses the expression to mean that something is finished, or decided.

  • Adams remembered one day seeing executives from the William Morris Agency and Cinema Center telling McQueen “we are taking the picture away from you. You are not allowed to do anything. It’s over and out. We are getting a new director. We are going to close down for two weeks until we have got everything together and the director comes in. Everything was taken away from him.” –LA Times

Summary

The idiom over and out is an expression that people use during radio communication.

It is a way for the speaker to tell the listener that the speaker is done talking, and the conversation is complete.