The almost universally used English International Phonetic Alphabet was adopted in 1955 for use by international air traffic control, maritime, police, military (NATO), and other users of radio and telephone communication:

Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India
Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo
Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey X
-ray Yankee Zulu


Before 1955 there were a number of different standards in use, such as:

The old U.S. Navy Radio Alphabet:
Able Baker Charlie Dog Easy Fox George How Item

Jig King Love Mike Nan Oboe Peter Queen Roger 

Sugar Tare Uncle Victor William X-ray Yoke Zebra


The Western Union Phonetic Alphabet:
Adams Boston Chicago Denver Easy Frank George Henry Ida

John King Lincoln Mary NewYork Ocean Peter Queen Roger

Sugar Thomas Union Victor William X-ray Young Zero


In Asia you will still find a variant of the following phonetic alphabet in common use, even by Airline Reservations staff (although the pilots, of course, use the International standard):

Australia Bombay China Delhi England Fiji Geneva HongKong India

Japan KualaLumpur London Malaysia Norway Osaka Penang Queensland Russia

Singapore Taiwan Uganda Vietnam Wellington X-ray Yokohama Zanzibar


For a comprehensive account of the many standards that have existed over the years see phonetic alphabets.


In 1972, while working in the Research Department of British Telecom (at that time called Post Office Telecommunications), I circulated the following "new phonetic alphabet standard" in a memo as a joke.  From time to time since then I have seen several almost identical "joke" alphabets that, I assume, were arrived at independently (or maybe someone kept a copy of my memo).  Anyway, here is mine:

Aesthetic Bdellium Cyst Djellaba Euphemism Feign Gnat Heuristic Ithyphallic

Jarlsberg Knickers Llama Mnemonic Nuance Oestrogen Pneumonia Quay Rhythm

Sjambok Tzar Ulema Veldt Wrath Xylophone Yttrium Zloty