What is the history on the term “lid” when referring to a telegrapher’s capability? How did it originate and what is the significance if any of each letter?

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    $\begingroup$ I have seen this question asked many times over the years on other forums. And, there have always been many answers. None of the answers that I can recall were definitive as the historical origination. In my opinion, no one knows. However, in my early ham experience 50+ years ago, I never recall this term being used. I submit it was invented after the late 1960s. However, maybe this forum is different and someone knows the correct answer for certain. $\endgroup$
    – K7PEH
    Mar 10, 2015 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ Try this one english.stackexchange.com/questions/31818/… full of historical excerpts $\endgroup$ Mar 10, 2015 at 22:18

1 Answer 1



As you say, there are many answers. I was licensed about 44 years ago which might make me a "novice" HIHI. In the absence of a definitive definition, I usually resort to "which one appeals to me the most, personally". As an avid collector in my youth of tin containers for storing small parts, I quite like this one from Rod (SK RIP) and Jeff Dinkins AC6V ORIGIN OF HAM SPEAK - FACT, LEGENDS AND MYTHS??? They write, "Certainly, the term LID came from land-line telegrapher slang. (LID was a reference to use of a tobacco can lid on the sounder to aid a poor operator in copying Morse.) This one may be true. It wouldn't be the first time that a group adopted a term originally meant as an insult to serve as a slang term for themselves." :-)

Incidentally, I still have many of my old 1970's tobacco tins somewhere. According to this Etsy seller, my tobacco tins could be worth about £5 (US $9.25) - I should start looking for them!



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