NATO phonetic alphabet

most widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet

The NATO phonetic alphabet is a way of using words to replace letters. The first letter of the word is the letter the word stands for. Although it is called a "phonetic alphabet" it is not really used for phonetics like the International Phonetic Alphabet or other phonetic alphabets. It is used to clearly say letters out loud when they might be hard to hear such as over the phone or when people are talking from different countries, or when it is important to be accurate such as in the military and in air travel. There have been many different phonetic alphabets over time. On board ships, flags are used to stand for letters, and each have their own meanings. Different countries also have different phonetic alphabets used in any subject


Oscar, on board ship, means Man Overboard

This is the phonetic alphabet that is used most often today:

  A Alpha   F Foxtrot   K Kilo   P Papa   U Uniform   Z Zulu
  B Bravo   G Golf   L Lima   Q Quebec   V Victor
  C Charlie   H Hotel   M Mike   R Romeo   W Whiskey
  D Delta   I India   N November   S Sierra   X X-ray
  E Echo   J Juliett   O Oscar   T Tango   Y Yankee

Numbers are also in the phonetic alphabet. The English numbers 0 through 3 and 5 through 8 are written and spoken the same. The number 4 is written the same, but pronounced fower to avoid confusion with the word "for". The number 9 is written the same, but it is pronounced niner to avoid confusion with the German word "Nein" ("No").