The Most Common Pager Codes and What They Mean

Pager codes provide a way for you to receive messages on numeric pagers. As the name implies, numeric pagers only receive numbers, so people can generally only leave a phone number for you to return a call. However, with pager codes, people can leave numbers intended to designate a specific message. What's the message?

Common Pager Codes

  • I love you: 143, alternately 180 (143 comes from the number of letters in each word)
  • Thinking of you: 823 (this one also comes from the number of letters in each word)
  • I need/have information: 411
  • Emergency: 911
  • Hello: 07734 (flip the pager upside down, the numbers look like they spell "hello")
  • Late: 87 (again, flip the pager to see the letter l and the number 8)
  • I have a secret: 007 (think James Bond)
  • Bad day: 13
  • Wish you were here: 619

Pager codes vary from region to region, and even among demographics, so it's best to confirm the meaning of pager codes verbally with the people you message frequently. Establishing your own pager codes, or confirming what you think the pager code means, is a good way to avoid misunderstandings and ensure you're on the same page.

Pager Messaging Can Be Elaborate
Many people have their own systems for pager messaging. You'll find some disagreement about specific pager codes, and some people have developed entire numeric systems to represent each letter of the alphabet. These pager codes are impractical if you're just learning and don't want to carry around a cheat sheet with an entire alphabet's worth of pager codes, but it can be useful if you're only using a pager to communicate and want to be able to send elaborate messages. However, this is only effective if the person with whom you're exchanging messages is also in on the pager codes.

Especially when groups of friends use pagers to communicate, it's important to assign two- or three-digit codes to each individual that they can use to sign the message so everyone knows who is talking. You might end your message with a -10 if your code is 10, indicating that you're transmitting the message. This shorthand only works if everyone knows the codes.

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