10 Secret Code Words You’re Not Meant to Know

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What at first seems like ordinary combinations of numbers or words can actually be signs of serious emergencies in the right situations. Read on to learn a few!



You’ve probably heard a policeman say “10-4,” at least in movies – a type of acknowledgment of what has been said. But 10-33 is something more. If you hear an officer say 10-33, it means there’s an emergency.

Code 10

The phrase “Code 10” actually has several meanings. If you’re in a hospital, it signals a serious threat or mass casualties. However, if you’re in a store and the cashier issues an authorization request for a Code 10, it means he or she finds you or your card to be suspicious. However, if you’re in Walmart, don’t be alarmed; Code 10 only means that there has been a dry spill!


This number is something you should hope to never hear your pilot say because it’s a code that signals the plane has been hijacked.


However, more and more people have become familiar with what “7500” means in this situation, so many airlines have gone a step further to install a button or some sort of contraption in the cockpit which quietly turns the plane’s transponder to 7500. Then, the air traffic control will simply confirm with the pilot that he sent the signal intentionally.

7700, however, signals general emergencies on a plane.

Code Adam

Back in 1994, Walmart coined the phrase “Code Adam” following the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old who had been innocently strolling around Sears. Now, it is used to signal a missing child in many public locations, such as malls, hospitals, supermarkets, and museums. Congress has even mandated that all federal buildings use Code Adam procedures as of 2003.

Code Blue

Some hospitals may differ from others, so there’s a chance it may mean something different for some hospitals, but in general, a Code Blue means that a patient has gone into cardiac arrest.

Code Bravo

Hearing “Code Bravo” in an airport is quite serious, as it means there has been a bomb threat or some other sort of security breach.


In fact, you may even encounter officials yelling the phrase because they want people to freeze, helping them to find where the legitimate threat is more quickly.

Code Oscar

We often associate the word “Oscar” with the Academy Awards, but unfortunately, on ships, “Code Oscar” has nothing to do with movies and actors. It means that there is a man overboard.

Code Silver

If you’re in a hospital and year “Code Silver,” keep your eye out for suspicious individuals. It means that there is someone in the building with a weapon, a hostage situation has occurred, or some other violent situation has ensued which requires a lockdown.

Doctor Firestone

Dr. Firestone isn’t a real doctor, but you could hear the name in a real medical emergency. It lets hospital staff know there’s a fire in the building. If you hear an announcement saying, Paging Dr. Firestone to the fifth floor,” you should know that there is no Dr. Firestone.


What it actually means is that there is a fire in the building, and they want to let the staff know without causing mayhem. Some hospitals may use the phrase “Code Red” instead.

Echo, Echo, Echo

You would only hear this in context if you are out on a ship on a foggy night. It means that two ships are about to run into one another. Some cruise ships utilize this phrase to let everyone on board know that there are high winds.