73 – A rant

In amateur radio terms, the numbers 73 are an abbreviation for “best wishes” or “best regards”.  Note the plural.

At the end of a contact people generally sign off using that abbreviation, it’s polite.

But if you say “seven threes” or “seventy threes” then what you’re really saying is “best wisheses“.  That sounds a bit silly.

If you want to make it really bad then you could say “best seventy threes” at the end of a QSO which translates to “best best wisheses” which is even worse.

It’s 73.  “Seven three”.  At a push it would be “seventy three”.  It’s already plural, no need to add an ‘s’ on the end.


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  1. Suppose you were saying ‘best wishes’ to a group? Would it not then be acceptable to use ’73s’ since your ‘best wishes’ would in fact have an audience of more than one?

    In the end I think you should find something else to gripe about… such trivial matters just make hams look like fickle gits.

  2. Not really, I’d just say “seven three all” or something similar to that.

    If I try hard enough, I’m sure I can find something else to gripe about but this is just a pet hate that I wanted to share.


  3. Keith,

    Unfortunately, it is not a new thing! If you look at some of the very early QSL cards from the 1920’s you will find that nearly every amateur signs ’73s’. The Grandfather of radio, Hiram Maxim, does exactly the same on his QSL card as does famous UK radio amateurs such a G2OD, G2UV, G2YL etc etc.
    I think it is one of those things that has just perpetuated over time however I do sympathise with your point.
    Ryan G5CL

  4. And what about “73’s”? Don’t get me started…!

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