If you have ever watched a military movie or any other military book, video game, or show, you have probably heard the word “klick” mentioned a lot.

For some people, it might have been obvious from the start what is all that about, however, if you are not one of those people, then this article is right up your alley.

As with other coded words, klick, sometimes spelled as “click”, is another word that helps the military in radio communications between them.

It is widely used to its shortness and because it is widely used and recognized among military personnel from around the world, not just the United States Army.

In this article, you will read more about the meaning of the word “klick”, its origin, history, and usage. In addition, you will learn more about other code words and military radio communication.

At the end of the text, you will find the basic rules of radio communications, as a bit of extra information that is both interesting and useful to know.


In military terms, klick is referred to as a measurement of distance. To be more precise, one klick is one kilometer in lengths, and it, contrary to the popular belief, it does not refer to solely to walking distance.

Klick is used for the distance measurement of ground infantry, both allied and hostile, and it refers to both the traveled and target distance of any other point of interest.

For example, it is completely plausible for a soldier to report that “several enemy units have been spotted three clicks north” or that “an enemy armored unit is situated at an abandoned depot seven clicks south”.

In the above examples, the term click has been used as a measurement from the point where allies are to the point of interest or a certain goal of the allied soldiers.

Of course, it does not need to be used in such a way exclusively, as it can be used in such sentences as “we have walked 10 clicks with no rest” and still be valid.

As long as the word is used in terms of measuring a distance, then it is used correctly, in the sense of semantics.

To be more precise, the term click refers particularly to one kilometer, which is exactly 1000 meters. If you are not well versed in the metric system or prefer the imperial units, here is the explanation.

Miles and feet are the main measurements of distance in the imperial system, and one kilometer is exactly 0.62 miles.

A foot, being inferior to a mile, is a lot more, hitting the 3280.8 mark in one kilometer.

The main reason for the United States Army to use metric units is due to a large number of joint operations they have with other countries that use the metric system.

According to Statista.com, only three countries in the whole world use the imperial unit system: the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar, while the United Kingdom uses both systems equally.

The United States Army, being one of the most powerful armies in the world, has often had operations throughout the world and on foreign soil.

Having often integrated ally soldiers from other countries, they had to adapt to their measurement system, as the imperial units were not as popular as metric ones.

That is why they integrated kilometers and klick into their radio and military lingo, in order to ensure clear and reciprocally comprehendible communication.

All in all, the metric system has a long history of usage, even though not as popular in the life of an average American, it is a system widely accepted by the whole world.


As previously said, the metric system is a measuring system for length and mass. Having been adopted in France in the late 18th century, it has been widely accepted and officially used in the whole world.

After the French Revolution, the country needed an overhaul of their measurement system, among many other things.

The French Academy of Sciences decided to implement a system that consisted of multiplication of 10, and 6 years later, metric units were created where the meter was derived for length and gram for weight.

Years later, the metric system gains popularity due to its exactness and is slowly adopted by other countries.

However, some countries have adopted it due to a famous French military leader conquering those said countries in the early 19th century.

It is not until the 1950s when the metric system was seen as an excellent measurement system for scientific purposes, one which would satisfy the scientific community.

If you wish to learn more about the metric system, its Latin origins of unit names, and the conversion rates into other units, this article has all the information you need.

In conclusion, it was a mixed bag of necessity and innovation that made the metric system possible and widely adopted nowadays in all spheres of life.


There is no exact moment where the military of the United States adopted the term klick for distance measurement, though the window of time where it is highly possible to have been adopted is the First World War.

The First World War started on July 28th, 1914 and lasted until November 11th, 1918. It was fought between Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and many other European countries against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The Army of the United States, however, officially took part in World War I campaigns against Germany near the end of the war, in 1917, to be precise.

The United States has made generous contributions through medical and military supplies and other necessary material and financial support, as well as providing units for combat operations.

The problem arose when there were units that consisted of soldiers from different countries, who speak different languages and use different measurement units, all necessary for comprehending war intelligence.

The French soldiers used kilometers on their maps and the soldiers of the United States absorbed “kilometer” into their military lingo. Much later, they shortened it to “klick” for fast pronunciation.

World War I having been considered the starting point of the kilometer usage by the American military, cannot be pinpointed with great accuracy the point in the history of the first time klick was used.

The research is inconclusive, while some argue it near the end of the First World War, due to the length of the word “kilometer”, while other argue that it was during the war in Vietnam.

According to an article, the origin of the word “klick” comes from the soldiers of Australia who were stationed in Vietnam during the war.

The Australian soldiers had to be well-versed in topography and map reading to be able to traverse the thick jungles of Vietnam.

They had a system of tracking their distance in which they would push up the gas regulator on their rifles a mark for every 100 meters.

If they pushed 10 marks, it would mean that they had walked one kilometer and would rewind the gas regulator back to the initial position.

Rewinding back would make a clicking noise, which explains the origin of the term “klick”, which means one kilometer.

Another theory tells that the klick was simply a shortened version of the kilometer and that, at the time, the American soldiers heard a foreign pronunciation of the word “kilometer”, and were able to pronounce it differently, as “klick”.


The term “klick” has solidified itself as a mainstay in the military lingo, primarily due to its shortness, which is of great value in radio communication.

In radio communication, it is of utmost importance to relay the necessary information as fast as possible. There are certain rules one must follow to ensure a good transfer of information, which will be covered in the latter part of the text.

The primary countries that use the term “klick” are the United States, above all, due to its history with it, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Countries that do not have English as their native language use it, though not to that extent as the ones who have English as their native language.

In conclusion, klick has become a mainstay in radio communication and there is rarely a person who has not heard the word “klick” in a medium that is military-related.

All in all, it is a simple and interesting system that might come in hand one day, in any situation that might come your way.

Having concluded the talk about klicks and kilometers, the next part of the text mostly deals with radio communication.

To be more precise, it deals with the necessity of short and concise language which helps in relaying the information.

It is a part of the text because it is one of the main reasons that kilometer is known as klick, so treat it as an extra-curriculum that can be useful to know.


You have learned about the word “klick”, its origins and meaning, but you might wonder whether it is that important to be concise and extremely short at the same time during radio communications.

Klick is one of many words that is constantly used in American military radio communication, due to its shortness and easiness of pronunciation.

In this part of the text, you will learn more about radio communication and why it is important to relay short and informative intelligence.

Consider this part an extra informative part that is an extension on the word “klick”, primarily dealing with the reasons why is it still used nowadays.

In addition, you will learn more about some other words that have been shortened so as to provide easiness of communication and comprehension.

Additionally, you will learn more about the rules of radio communication, as well as how to initiate a radio message and which words to use to terminate the radio communication, among other things.

Two-way radio communication is important in all fields where information is a vital necessity. Police officers and military of any country is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about team communication.

Having said that, more often than not, members of either one of these organizations find themselves in the middle of a situation where the conciseness and helpful information is important.

That is exactly the reason why they have their own code words for different situations, in order to provide the most helpful information in the least said words.

The police have their own coded words and vocabulary, similar to the one army has but different in a way. Both will be briefly described in the latter part of the text.

The most common grammar process that is used in radio communication in the military is word blending and abbreviation and sometimes they mix these two processes up to form new words.

Word blending, in short, is the process where two words are blended in order to make a new word.

The abbreviation is the act of shortening a word using their initial letters.

For example, in the military, the term “opposing force” is meant as a large unit of enemies, which is often regarded as “opfor” in radio communication, for quicker message relay.

Another great example of a blended word is “sitrep” which is short for “situational report”. For abbreviations, great examples are “AF”, which stands for Air Force, and AA, which stands for Anti-Air.

In the military, radio communications are a thin line between a successful mission and a disastrous conclusion to a mission.

All soldiers need to learn to use quick and easily understandable code words to describe their situations to other people.

That is why kilometer became klick, why situation report became sitrep, and why you should not tell “the enemy is one kilometer ahead of you” but “tango is one click ahead”.

There are also other opening and closing words that need to be used in radio communication. Words like “roger” for confirmation of the received message and “over” symbolizing a full stop of your message.

There are a lot more radio communication lingo items that are important, so if you are interested in learning more about the majority of them, this article will satisfy your needs.

On the other hand, the police have a different kind of radio codes when compared to the military ones. Their codes mostly consist of combinations of numbers that represent different offenses.

However, in this part, we are focusing more on the words in radio communication, which is why the next part we are going to mention is the military phonetic alphabet.

The military phonetic alphabet is the best example of the need for concise and helpful information in radio communications.

It consists of the English alphabet but using other words that symbolize each letter of the alphabet.

For example, if you wish to say that someone is leaving a certain position, you would say that they are “Oscar Mike”.

“Oscar” and “Mike” stand for OM, which is an abbreviation of “on move”. It is a simple yet effective way of communicating and relaying the necessary information to other officers.

The NATO alliance is the one that popularized this particular phonetic alphabet and the majority of the countries who are members of the alliance have their armies use this radio alphabet for better understanding.

The work on an easier way to communicate started all the way in the 1940s, but after many revisions and upgrades to the alphabet, it still did not provide good communication.

It was not until the early 1980s when it was finally unveiled as a phonetic alphabet, usable and tailored to be easily accessible and understandable to all language speakers.

Some early problems included similarly sounding words that confused speakers of other languages, such as “nectar” for N and “victor” for V.

Other minor problems included different spelling of certain words in the phonetic alphabet, such as “alpha” and “alfa”, but both versions are nowadays acceptable.


In conclusion, everybody must have heard the word klick at least once in their life, due to different movies, TV shows, and many other military programs.

Although, it might have been obvious to some people who are either into the military genre of entertainment or who are members of the military or any other division in which it might be used.

However, not all people are interested in these kinds of code words that are prominently used in radio communication, primarily in the military.

As previously said, it simply stands for a kilometer and it might not be popular for the civilians in the United States or any other country where the Imperial system is widely used.

However, it is widely used in the military of that and many other countries, only because of its simplicity and widespread use of the Metric system around the world.

Just remember that you can use both spelling variations, both “click” and “klick” and who knows, you might add it and start using it in everyday conversation.

In addition, radio communications are an also an important part of any serious organization and the simplicity and effectiveness of messaging are still being explored.

This was just a part of processes some organizations use in order to simplify the information sharing over two-way radios, there are numerous others which have not been mentioned.

The term klick is closely related to radio communication and military through its origin and it is only fair to explain both in order to fully comprehend the true meaning of the word and its purpose.

How Far is a Klick

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