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A common phrase/word I've seen used in text and I've heard on air in conversation is "hihi" or "hi-hi". What does this mean and in what contexts is it appropriate to use?

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It is ham radio laughter. HIHI, sometimes HI, other other times HIHI. It's origins are in CW (aka Morse Code), not voice. In fact, I believe old-timers might think it is silly to say HiHi or something on SSB or other voice comms when you can merely laugh if something is funny.

But, with Morse Code, laughter is not in the alphabet so HIHI gets the job.

In Morse code, this is "di-di-di-dit di-dit" -- and the pattern is supposed to vaguely sound like laughter (I think very vaguely). I actually never use it even though I have been mostly CW ops for decades and decades.

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    $\begingroup$ So, effectively lol, now used in speech and regular text? Falling out of favor in actual CW operation is interesting, particularly because the use must have jumped some generations. $\endgroup$ – user2943160 Jul 15 '16 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ Although LOL could also be sent in CW, it is actually too long to catch on plus it does not have the right "sound" which is what the HI is all about. By the way, that "right sound" does not come across until it is sent at a speed of at least 20 wpm. And, 35 wpm and above is probably too fast for this to be good laughter. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Jul 15 '16 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @user2943160 Not sure what you mean by "Falling out of favor..." comment but CW is still very actively used by many ham radio operators. Sure, it is not as popular with new people today and probably many reasons for that. I learned CW when I was 9 years old -- that was 60 years ago. CW QSOs are by far the majority of my contacts. If I have 40 QSOs in a day, maybe one of them might be SSB. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Jul 15 '16 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not commenting on the status of CW, but the status of using hihi in contemporary CW. $\endgroup$ – user2943160 Jul 15 '16 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ @user2943160 OK. Actually, it is a very rare event for me to copy someone else sending HIHI in a CW QSO. And, I am on the air every day, CW of course. However, much of my activity is message traffic nets and picking up new stations when I hear them or when I call CQ. The use of HIHI is more likely to occur in a long running rag chew among people who probably know each other. I only do that once or twice a month. By long, usually an hour or more sometimes involving multiple ops in a round-robin fashion. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Jul 16 '16 at 0:12

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