-->'''Joel:''' The spotted cuckoo bird is flying backwards...\\
'''Crow:''' It's a cold day for pontooning.
-->-- ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'', episode 512 "''Film/{{Mitchell}}''"

%% One quote is enough; please puts any new ones in the Quotes tab.

Speaking in code. Not only spies, but anyone in a secret-ish organization having a reasons to be discreet -- like LaResistance with code phrases, a [[TheMenInBlack Man In Black]] using metaphor, a [[MurderInc hit squad]], etc. -- might do this. A form of CrypticConversation.

'''Usually one of these three:'''
# '''Key words''', or replacing people's names with common items, much like DoubleSpeak, but can be less vague. This one is often parodied by the people speaking in complete non-sequiturs.
-->'''Agent Bob:''' {{The Mole}}s snuck into [[HomeBase the Garden]] last night.\\
'''Agent Alice:''' What's [[TheSpymaster The Gardener's]] response?\\
'''Agent Bob:''' He said to send [[ProfessionalKiller The Exterminator]].\\
'''Agent Alice:''' May God have mercy on us all.
# '''A Metaphor''', also known as "Open Code", similar to UnusualEuphemism and TroubleEntendre, with words and themes replacing the business of the organization, like the following:
--> '''The Gardener:''' My garden is full of weeds this year, the herbicide isn't working.\\
'''The Exterminator:''' Perhaps you should use a shear to clip the weeds.\\
'''The Gardener:''' Shears are too indiscriminate; besides, weeds must be pulled out by the roots. Perhaps you could come and pull them out, for the usual fee?
# '''[[TrustPassword Sign/Countersign]]''', or completely unrelated phrases meant to look like a casual conversation.
-->'''Agent D:''' They said it would rain tomorrow.\\
'''The Exterminator:''' You can't trust the weatherman, not in the summer.\\
'''[[DoubleAgent Agent D:]]''' It's good it will be autumn soon, then.\\
'''The Exterminator:''' (''[[HollywoodSilencer *pfft*]]'') It's good it will be '''''[[BondOneLiner fall]]''''' soon, then.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the randomness of these kinds of spy speak, a completely unrelated [[InnocentBystander civilian]] will [[HeroicBystander get embroiled]] in whatever the plot is by randomly getting the code words, Sign Countersign, or metaphor right. Alternatively, a character might point out that they're doing this under unnecessary circumstances, and the codeword usage is just pointless. Another typical parody/subversion is to have the apparent Spy Speak turn out to be [[LiteralMetaphor literally true]], generating confusion. Might rely heavily on birds and flying.

Subtrope to DoubleMeaning. See also ThePasswordIsAlwaysSwordfish, AttackPatternAlpha, MilitaryAlphabet, TalkingThroughTechnique and ReportingNames. May result in MistakenForBadass.

----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* In a Priceline commercial WilliamShatner and a prospective customer exchange Sign/Countersign phrases.
-->'''Customer:''' The eagle flies at dawn.\\
'''Shatner:''' The monkey eats custard.
* In [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA231VmQPk8 this ad]] for ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'' and [=BMW=], two men exchange the following Sign/Countersign, subtitled with ad copy for [=BMW=]:
-->"Does the red robin crow at dusk?"\\
"Yes, but only in the shade of the big elk tree."\\
"If it's raining in Brussels..."\\
"It must be snowing in Spain."
:: Then a third man breaks in with "The circus elephant has lost its way," which puzzles the first two men right up to the point where they see [[LiteralMetaphor the actual circus elephant.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/DeathNote''
** An ''ad hoc'' variant when Matsuda is accosted by the Yotsuba group. This (slightly paraphrased) conversation takes place over mobile phones:
--->'''L:''' Hey man, wanna go out drinking tonight?\\
'''Matsuda:''' Uh, sorry, I can't tonight.\\
'''L:''' What? Don't tell me your wallet's ''in trouble'' again?\\
'''Matsuda:''' Yeah, that's it, ''I'm in big trouble'' with money right now.
::: This, naturally, meant he was in trouble.
** More subtle version: Light calls Mikami, and manages to give him very careful directions as to how to act as the latest Kira... without ever tipping off his dinner partner.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''
** The heroes fight a truly ghoulish GovernmentConspiracy, and as such have to improvise Spy Speak whenever there's even a slight chance of the walls having ears.
--->'''Roy:''' Elizabeth was stolen by another man!
** As evidenced above, Mustang's version is comprised almost entirely of talk about his many, many girlfriends. Who, incidentally, by the end of the manga pretty clearly utterly fail to exist. Most of the few actual women he's seen with turn out to be agents with his foster mother's information network.
** Also, alchemical research is often written in code to make it difficult for the wrong people to decipher it.
** There's a lovely one which consists of Roy and Riza discussing a bunch of friends at lunch. The first initials of the names Riza mentions Roy spells out (in the loo) to convey the shocking [[TheReveal Reveal]]: [[spoiler: SELIM BRADLEY IS HOMUNCULUS.]]
* ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic! The Second Raid''. During briefing, one soldier mentions the "Cretan paradox" when a Cretan (someone from the island of Crete) says that all Cretans are liars. When Mithril realizes during a mission that they got an information leak, Kalinin invokes this conversation, secretly telling the team that they are about to confuse the enemy by him giving orders and the team doing the exact opposite. It works.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'': Local CreepyChild Rika likes to discuss the activities of "cats" that are quite prone to doing things.
* The first episode of ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' has the [[FantasticDrug Red Eye/Bloody Eye]] dealers speaking in code to identify themselves as buyers and sellers. Makes a brief return in a later episode when Gren and Vicious speak in code to arrange a meeting point for their deal. Spike, who is trying to listen in, is unable to tell where they'll be and has to wait until the deal goes sour and [[StuffBlowingUp stuff starts blowing up]] before he can find them.
-->'''Asimov:''' I'll have a beer.\\
'''Asimov's Girlfriend:''' And I'll have a Bloody Mary, make it a double.\\
'''Bartender:''' I've got the vodka, but I'm all out of tomato juice.\\
'''Asimov:''' I'm sure there's one can in the back. (''they both go to the back room to talk terms'')
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Audio Play]]
* Soldiers from Ft. Irwin use code phrases to identify themselves over radio or sat phone communications in AudioPlay/WereAlive. These phrases are ad libbed but require a certain combination of pre-arranged words within them. For example:
-->'''Puck''':Three tangos sat on the wire.
-->'''Carl''':The Roman pillar fell on the fish!
** Earlier in the series survivors from The Tower used bird-themed callsigns for people and places to disguise their communications over CB radio.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comedy]]
* Music/BillBailey claims dentists talk in Spy Speak to avoid terrifying patients with what they actually mean ("Fetch me THE WIDOWMAKER!"). He joins in with "The Pheasant Has No Agenda".
* Used in the joke about the secret agent whose contact is living in one of those Welsh villages where lots of people have the same surname, so they are distinguished by referring to their occupation. The secret agent has just got off the train and is speaking to the station master:
-->'''Agent:''' Where can I find Mr. Jones?\\
'''Station Master:''' Ah, well, there are lots of Joneses here, you see. There's Jones the Milk, Jones the Post, Jones the Baker -- why, my name is Jones!\\
'''Agent:''' "The last swallow of summer is winging his way over the horizon!"\\
'''Station Master:''' Ah, it's Jones the Spy you want!
** A similar skit was performed on the album "You Don't have to be Jewish". The punchline was, "Oh you want Moscowitz the spy... top floor on the left."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* A comic about a spy contained these lines:
-->'''Spy:''' Shhh! My aunt has a sharp-witted ranger!\\
'''Guy with sunglasses:''' Are you crazy or what??
* Parodied in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' prequel book ''Start of Darkness''.
-->'''Right-Eye:''' The chimera has three sets of teeth.\\
'''Eugene:''' ...I'm sorry?\\
'''Right-Eye:''' I said, "The chimera has three sets of teeth."\\
'''Eugene:''' Uh, well, I suppose it must take a long time for them to floss, then.\\
'''Right-Eye:''' What?\\
'''Eugene:''' I'm just saying, they probably get quite a bit of food stuck in between.\\
'''Right-Eye:''' I don't think you heard me. I said, "The chimera--\\
'''Eugene:''' Yes, yes, I heard you just fine. It simply doesn't make any more sense upon repetition. I mean, I am an important wizard. I don't have time to sit around a strange tavern on a rainy afternoon and discuss the assorted dental endowments of magical beasts. Take your bizarre oral fixation somewhere else before you scare off the guy who asked me to meet him here.\\
'''Right-Eye:''' Look, I can see the letter I sent you from over here. Read the part right after where I wrote, "You will know me when I say the phrase, 'The chimera has three sets of teeth.'"\\
'''Eugene:''' Ummm... "Then you will verify your identity by saying, 'Then its bite is thrice as deadly.'"\\
'''Right-Eye:''' Thank you! Geez! Was that so hard?\\
'''Eugene:''' "Thrice." Interesting word choice.\\
'''Right-Eye:''' Just let it drop.
* In one ''ComicBook/JosieAndThePussyCats'' story, [[BrainlessBeauty Melody]] is spouting 'mixed-up maxims', and one just happens to be the pass-phrase for a covert operation. A foreign spy mistakes her for another operative, and gives her a secret file hidden in a stuffed animal. Needless to say, when the spy's ''real'' contact comes by, things get sticky...
* In ''ComicStrip/KnightsOfTheDinnerTable'', players will occasionally use "player advantage codes" to communicate with each other without the {{game master}} knowing (e.g. when one player has important information that his character shouldn't be able to pass along to the rest of the party). The technique [[ItOnlyWorksOnce lost it effectiveness]] as game masters got wise to it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* There's a ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'' strip where Peter and Denise have a phone conversation in Spy Speak ("The heavy flag flaps not at night."); the final panel shows Jason, who has a complete wiretapping rig, telling [[BlackBestFriend Marcus]] "I think they're onto us.".
* ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'' did a satire on ''Series/MissionImpossible'' skewering about all the standard spy craft in it. In this satire, Jim got his orders from a coke machine in a cinema lobby, which burst into flames. A couple in the background, watching all of this said, "That's the most suspicious thing I've seen in my life." From then on, when ever something "spy-ee" took place, there was a couple observing it who said the same thing.
* Parodied by ''The Bucketts''.
-->'''Toby:''' My cellphone needs new wallpaper.\\
'''Grandpa:''' The fat man walks at midnight.\\
(''both stare at each other for a panel'')\\
'''Both:''' What the heck are you talking about?
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Bella of ''FanFic/{{Luminosity}}'' makes these up sometimes, since [[KilledToUpholdTheMasquerade she doesn't want anyone to die]].
-->"Remember I told you about Billy? It's him and his son Jacob. I'm going to stay and be sociable, and make sure they eat a nice dinner. I might not be over today at all. So please don't be alarmed and come wondering what the holdup is." ''Please don't come and activate the wolves'', I meant, and hoped he'd understand.
* Calvin and Hobbes do this while initiating Operation Spy on the Slimy Girl in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries''
* In ''Fanfic/TheArtOfDrowning'' [[Manga/DeathNote L and Watari]] use the keyword variety-which Light later unwittingly uses when pretending to be L:
-->'''L:''' I would rather avoid Watari all together, but if there is a chance that he is not in league with [[spoiler:Roger]], then I would prefer him by my side. I'm just not looking forward to the interrogation.\\
'''Light:''' Well, at least he'll bring tea and scones.\\
'''L:''' What?\\
'''Light:''' Erm, I told the boys to tell him to bring tea and scones? [[TrustPassword So he'd know it was really you? Because you tell him that a lot?]]\\
'''L:''' You told him to come armed to the teeth and prepared to kill.\\
'''Light:''' I -- what? I did?
* In the ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'', [[Franchise/JamesBond Commander Bond]] has a spell that makes conversations he wants to keep private sound like they're entirely in this to whoever's trying to listen in.
* ''[[Fanfic/PoniesOfOlympus Atlas Strongest Tournament]]'': The trope is lampshaded during a conversation between Princess Luna and her spy among the changelings [[spoiler:who may or may not have been replaced by an actual changeling]].
-->'''Spy:''' The princess will save the dragon, the apples are being sorted, and... do we really have to talk like this?\\
'''Luna:''' These are standard espionage codes. One must do things properly.
* In ''Fanfic/OfficePolitics'' L and Raito use Spy Speak [[DoubleEntendre to talk about their relationship troubles:]]
-->''L has used his extensive knowledge of cryptology to code in things like "Perhaps we should reconsider our relationship and consider reapplying generous amounts of sex in the butt." (Though it frustrated him greatly, even L's awesome mind could not properly work the semantics of forensic pathology and the word "fucking" together.)\\
Raito raises one fine, fine brow at L when L says this, and replies, "On the other hand, perhaps the coroner wasn't thorough enough in his external examination--needle-punctures can be wildly difficult to locate and I have not yet abandoned the idea that some of these deaths could have been caused by the application of excessive insulin. Local law enforcement has, after all, been writing them off too easily on Kira."\\
After Raito has left the room, L says, "That was completely uncalled for."''
* In ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony'', Twilight tries to use a code phrase... only to find that the person who gave her the original code was just messing with her.
-->'''Twilight:''' The dawn cow barks at the lonely sponge on a midsummer's eve.\\
'''Mrs. Cake:''' Damn it all, what are you talking about, girl?
* In the two-part ''KimPossible'' fanfic "Vacation From the Norm" ([[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7365434/1/Vacation-from-the-Norm part 1]], [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8247998/1/Vacation-from-the-Norm-Bk-2-Journey-of-Discovery part 2]]), Gemini's World-Wide Evil Empire (WWEE) has infiltrated Global Justice. In Part 2, Betty Director communicates this to Will Du, using a code exchange only known by the two of them, and inspired by MontyPython:
-->'''Director''': The Ministry of Silly Walks needs more [[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail Knights that Say 'Ni'.']]\\
'''Du''': It's not dead, it's just...resting.\\
'''Director''': Nobody expects the...[[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!]]
--->(It is noted in-story that Director's substituting "The Spanish Inquisition" with "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" was itself a code, stating that GJ has been infiltrated at the highest level. [[spoiler: Indeed, shapechanger Camille Leone was impersonating Dr. Director, and the real Director used the Python code to assure Du that she was real.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Done in ''{{Cars 2}}'' between Holly Shiftwell and Mater -- she identifies Mater as a fellow spy when he correctly answers obscure questions about the air cooling used by Volkswagen engines.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TheLongestDay'', the Free French use the phrase ''Jean had a long moustache'' as the signal for "The invasion will come tomorrow, the [[LaResistance Resistance]] shall begin with the preparations" (probably TruthInTelevision). Cue the mayor of Colleville (André Bourvil) dancing around the radio and shouting "Jean had a long moustache... Jean had a long moustache!", before running outside to blow up some telephone lines. In fact, those radio transmissions were full of dozens of messages like that every night. Some of them were communiques to various resistance cells, and others were sheer gibberish sent over the airwaves to drive any Germans listening on that frequency nuts.
* Almost every dialogue in ''Film/TheLimitsOfControl'' is made about this trope.
* Parodied in ''Film/TheIpcressFile''. At the beginning of the movie Harry's spying on a building and reads out an innocuous sounding list, which we automatically assume is code -- but it isn't, and what he's watching really is that innocuous.
* In ''Léon'' a.k.a. ''Film/TheProfessional'', he calls himself a "Cleaner", instead of "Assassin" or "Hitman". So someone might ask him to "clean" someone, rather than "kill" them. That's actually a ShoutOut to ''Nikita'', where Creator/JeanReno played the "cleaner" i.e. a character who specialized in destroying the evidence and disposing of bodies after the hit.
* Partially parodied in ''Film/TheSaint'':
-->'''Simon:''' To Spider: You've got the recipe, where's my dough?\\
'''Tretiak:''' To Human Fly: Recipe incomplete. Cake won't rise. Hence, no dough.
* Film/JamesBond does a lot of this.
** In ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'', meeting a contact at a ski resort, they apparently comment on the quality of the piste in comparison to other resorts.
** ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove'':
--->'''Agent A:''' Can I borrow a match?\\
'''Agent B:''' I use a lighter.\\
'''Agent A:''' That's better still.\\
'''Agent B:''' Until they go wrong.
** Half-parodied in ''Film/GoldenEye'':
--->'''Bond:''' In London, April's a Spring month.\\
'''Jack Wade:''' Oh yeah? And what are you, the weatherman? I mean, for crying out loud... another stiff-ass Brit, with your secret codes and your passwords. One of these days you guys are gonna learn just to drop it.\\
(''Bond then [[spoiler:holds him at gunpoint until he gives the correct response before introducing himself]]'')
** A straight example in ''Film/DiamondsAreForever''. When Tiffany Case arrives at the circus to pick up the diamonds, the CIA agent alerts everyone.
--->'''Agent:''' This is Quarterback. Operation Passover, commence. Quarterback to Tight End. Operation Passover, commence.
** Lampshaded in ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'':
--->'''Christmas Jones:''' Do you wanna put that in English for those of us who don't speak spy?
* Parodied in ''Film/HotShots Part Deux''. The radio controller is trying to warn the good guys that enemies are about to attack, using phrases like "The vultures are circling the carcass", "The pit bull is out of the cage", "The Crips are raiding the liquor store". The guy on the other end has no idea what he's talking about. The first phrase used is "Indians on the warpath in your area." This line (and the three prior lines) are a ShoutOut to a similar scene in ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone'' which used almost identical dialogue (see below).
* ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone''. During radio communication, the team's command base uses coded language to send information.
-->"High Flight reports Indians on warpath in your territory." [Aerial reconnaissance has seen German naval units in your vicinity.]
* ''Film/TheAndromedaStrain'' (1971). Dr. Charles Dutton uses Type 3 to enter Project Wildfire.
-->'''Guard:''' Howdy.\\
'''Dutton:''' Howdy Doody.\\
'''Guard:''' You got the time?\\
'''Dutton:''' My watch stopped at 11:46.\\
'''Guard:''' Darn shame.\\
'''Dutton:''' Must be the heat.
* Used in the ''[[Film/TheBourneSeries Bourne Ultimatum]]''. It is revealed that the closing lines to the previous movie were in fact impromptu Spy Speak, and that Bourne had somehow deduced the ''exact'' meaning of the code without knowing anything about the place being talked about. The eavesdropping villains take a long time to figure it out in spite of actually knowing the secret already.
* ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' had a variant on this. Spock and Kirk, discussing repair estimates to the ''Enterprise'', used a code that substituted days for hours. This made Khan (who was eavesdropping on the conversation) believe Kirk's ship was hopelessly crippled.
* In the epic clown movie ''Film/ShakesTheClown'', evil clown Binky is informed of his successful drug purchase by one of his henchmen with, "The dolphins are in the jacuzzi."
* ''Film/JumpinJackFlash'' "Dogs barking. Can't fly without umbrella."
* ''Film/ClearAndPresentDanger'': Spy Speak pervades the film. "Coffee" means cocaine. The special forces soldiers refer to planting a bomb and detonating it as "The chicken is in the pot." -- "Cook it." respectively. And so on by many characters. The President starts the whole mess with "The course of action I'd suggest is a course of action I can't suggest." This contrasts his TitleDrop in the same scene, and his hypocrisy is called out later in the film.
-->'''Cutter:''' He [the president] can't be clear when clarity is exactly what he wants to avoid.
* A scene like this happened in ''Film/{{Casino}}''.
* ''Film/TheShadow''.
-->"The sun is shining..."\\
"but the ice is slippery."
* ''Film/TopSecret''
-->"Know any good white basketball players?"\\
"There ARE no good white basketball players."\\
"Who do you favor in the Virginia Slims Tournament?"\\
"In women's tennis, I always root against the heterosexual."
* Parodied in ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'', where it is a case of OneDialogueTwoConversations. The British spymaster asks the protagonist whether the girl was "taken to the bathroom" and "flushed" (code for assassination and disposal of the body), while the protagonist (who [[AndYouThoughtItWasAGame doesn't know]] that he has been [[MistakenForSpies mistaken for a spy]]) fails to recognize this as code. He informs the spymaster that "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin She went to the loo... by herself]]", which the spymaster erroneously interprets as meaning "suicide".
* Parodied in ''International Lady'', when British agent Reggie Oliver (BasilRathbone) does not understand [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage the American slang]] used by FBI agents:
-->'''Hanley:''' This is Rah-Rah Sewell, one of our best fullbacks. Learning to be a dick. Inspector Oliver, Scotland Yard.\\
'''Sewell:''' Scotland Yard -- Gee, that sort of sends me wacky. Well, the Brain said PDQ. Better breeze in.\\
'''Oliver:''' ... He talks in code, doesn't he?
* In one of ''Franchise/ThePinkPanther'' movies, Inspector Clouseau asks Chief Inspector Dreyfus what his code name is. The Chief Inspector sputters out that he doesn't have one. Inspector Clouseau, satisfied, replies that only the REAL Chief Inspector Dreyfus would know he doesn't have a code name.
* ''Film/QuestOfTheDeltaKnights'': The Delta Knights use Sign/Countersign to identify each other.
* In ''NickFury'', the TV movie:
-->'''Nick Fury:''' Beauty is trust and trust is beauty. That's all ye on this Earth know and all ye need to know.\\
'''Gail Runciter:''' Is that part of the recognition code?\\
'''Nick Fury:''' No, I just felt like saying it.
* ''Film/{{Ronin}}'' is full of this, as per the opening exchange between Vincent and Sam:
-->'''Sam:''' So, are you labor or management?\\
'''Vincent:''' If I was management, I would not offer you a cigarette!
:: No surprise that Creator/DavidMamet co-wrote the screenplay.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger'', when Peggy takes Steve to the secret military lab, she has a casual conversation with an elderly lady about the weather.
** Also used in the 1990 film, but they talk about the food.
* In ''Film/ASongIsBorn'', Hobart Frisbee uses his newfound grasp of hep cat language to communicate his escape plan to the musicians near the end.
* ''The Assignment'' (1997) is about a US naval officer who has an uncanny resemblance to Carlos the Jackal, so he's recruited in a CIA/Mossad scheme to discredit the terrorist. Another terrorist who knows the real Carlos accidentally runs into this {{doppelganger}} at Heathrow Airport. The protagonist tries to bluff his way out by pretending to be Carlos, but when the terrorist responds, "I need to buy a newspaper" realizes too late that it's a password to which he doesn't know the countersign -- his life is only saved by the intervention of a Mossad agent who gets killed in the process. Afterwards his CIA handler mentions a similar incident where he was forced to kill a man who didn't respond with the correct countersign, and later uses this story to [[SpotTheImposter tell the difference between the protagonist and the real Carlos]].
* In ''John Wick'', if you need corpses removed and their blood cleaned from the walls, you would call a certain man and ask for a "Dinner Reservation."
* In ''Signé Furax'', an agent is ordered to enter a shop at a specified address and order lamb leg. He dutifully enters a music shop and asks for a lamb leg; the tenant immediately produces one from under his desk. A clue is written on the bone of the leg. Utterly inconspicuous.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Brilliantly parodied in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' book, ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'': a secret cultist goes through a length of sign countersign for a password, only to find that he's talking to a different secret cult, when he gets some of it confused.
-->"Surely the cagéd whale knows nothing of the mighty depths."\\
"Nope, bean soup it is."
* Subverted in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', where the two men discussing wizards, witches, Quidditch and the Ministry of Magic are suspected of using code, but actually mean exactly what they say. (Actually assigning the terms "Muggles", "Wizards", and "Ministry" a one-to-one relationship with gangs or government branches yields some ''really'' convoluted politics.)
* Also parodied in ''Literature/JohnDiesAtTheEnd'':
-->''"Hello?"\\
"Dave? This is John. Your pimp says bring the crack shipment tonight, or he'll be forced to stick you. Meet him where we buried the Korean whore. The one without the goatee."\\
That was code. It meant "Come to my place as soon as you can, it's important." Code, you know, in case the phone was bugged.\\
"John, it's three in the--"\\
"--Oh, and don't forget, tomorrow is the day we kill the President."\\
''*Click*''\\
He was gone. That last part was code for, "Stop and pick me up some cigarettes on the way."''
* There's a Creator/LarryNiven story of humanity's first contact with aliens, when the [[Literature/KnownSpace Kzin]] attack the [[WeaponizedExhaust "unarmed"]] starship ''Angel's Pencil''. Having leaked the news out of ARM HQ, the protagonists on Earth are discussing this: "So, you think Angel sliced the bread with the pencil?" says one, while thinking that it's difficult to communicate when you're making up your code as you go.
* Creator/DaveBarry does this when his directions to a point of interest in Sweden ends with "tell the man standing on the corner that the oyster owns a fine wristwatch. He'll know what to do."
* In one of ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' books, Taim sends Rand a note that reads, "I picked that bush myself. A small bush, and thorny, but a good number of berries nonetheless." It's an extended metaphor. The "bush" is the Two Rivers, the backwater region where Rand grew up. "Berries" are men with the potential to channel. "Small" and "thorny" mean exactly what they look like.
* In ''The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks'', Norman, realizing the weirdness of his home situation, comes up with the idea of using code words such as "'''ice cream'''" for "'''sock'''", "'''chocolate'''" for "'''dirty'''", "'''cat'''" for "'''plant'''", etc. A nosy girl overhears this and asks him about why his '''cats''' eat so much '''ice cream'''.
* Variant #1 happens from time to time in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', usually over the phone.
* V.F.D. in ''ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents'' uses the "sign/countersign" form for "volunteers" to identify each other; for instance, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was a sad occasion" is answered with "[[ArcWords The world is quiet here]]."
* Creator/JohnLeCarre books are full of this. Particularly ''Literature/TheQuestForKarla''.
* The Creator/TimPowers novel ''Literature/{{Declare}}'' involves lots of code phrases and recognition exchanges, some of which turn out to have occult significance.
* Vernor Vinge's short story ''Run Bookworm Run'' takes this to an extreme:
-->'''Super-intelligent chimpanzee:''' Why does the goodwife like Dutch Elm Disease for tea?\\
'''Ordinary-looking section of wall:''' I don't know, I just work here.\\
'''Super-intelligent chimpanzee:''' Well find out before her husband does.
:: This is repeated over thousands of miles of such walls, each with different codes.
* Kim from ''Kipling'' has an actually smart one. You must stop before a few specific words. You must insert those words into innocent small talk, then pause before the word. Your partner must do the same with another word. "It was a nice wedding. The bride had that beautiful necklace with the great... turquoise." "Oh, how expensive. How was the food? Was there... tarkeean?"
* In the Creator/RobertAHeinlein short story "Methuselah's Children", the Howard Families use this identification routine:
-->"Life is short."\\
"But the years are long."\\
"Not 'While the Evil Days Come Not.'"
* Spoofed in ''[[Literature/NewJediOrder Rebel Dream]]''. The Insiders don't actually use sign/countersign methods, preferring to stick to known members and use Jedi and YVH droids to screen for infiltrators. This doesn't stop Kell from making up his own.
-->"No countersign. What kind of holodrama is this, anyway?"
* In ''Freakonomics'', the author tells how the Ku Klux Klan used this. A klansman who went to another city and was looking for other klansmen (in a bar, for example) would ask people "Do you know a Mr Ayak?" (='''A'''re '''Y'''ou '''A K'''lansman?) The answer he expected would be "Yes, and I also know a Mr Akai." (= '''A K'''lansman '''A'''m '''I'''.) They also used many codewords by simply substituting Kl at the beginning of words, like Kloran (from Quran) for their ritual book. Which tended to sound pretty silly.
* In the ''Literature/LordPeterWimsey'' mystery ''Murder Must Advertise'', the drug ring that Charles Parker is investigating uses [[spoiler: "Nutrax for nerves"]] as a password. It can be written on a note, worked into casual conversation or printed on a book or newspaper you are carrying -- doesn't matter. Give the password in any form, and they'll hand you a package of drugs. This gets a minor character in trouble halfway through the book, as he unwittingly gives the password and gets handed half a pound of high-class cocaine without realizing it.
* ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'': The gang of Greys that kidnap [[spoiler: Jake]] in ''Literature/TheWasteLands'' use a sign-countersign kind of password for entering their hideout.
* Subverted in, of all places, the ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'' novel "Hour of the Dragon". Conan attempts to sneak into a Stygian temple disguised as a pilgrim, but realizes that the pilgrims must give a secret hand signal to the temple guard to gain entrance. Upon realizing this, Conan, being Conan, just kills the guard and walks in anyway.
* In the first book of ''Literature/DetectivesInTogas'', the boy Rufus is in prison and about to be executed, but manages to send a strange message to the others: "Rip off the red wolf's sheep's clothing!" He's talking about [[spoiler:the "seer" Lukos (Greek for "wolf"), whose name is written in red on his house, who's the BigBad and framed Rufus. Lukos is really the bald ex-consul Tellus, who wears a wig when playing Lukos.]]
* Whenever [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]] has to call the Wardens (which, at that point, he's already in deep shit), he has to do several sign-countersign routines in quick succession for the Wardens to confirm that it is, in fact, Harry. Despite realizing the necessity of it all, it still bugs the crap out of him.
* A brief exchange shows up in the RyanVerse book ''Literature/ClearAndPresentDanger''
-->'''Agent:''' It may rain today.\\
'''CIA:''' If so, I have a coat.\\
'''Agent:''' A cold rain, perhaps.\\
'''CIA:''' The coat has a liner.
:: The agent then remarks that it actually ''is'' supposed to rain later, complimenting whoever it was that came up with that code.
* In ''Literature/TheBelgariad'', the Nadrak Yarblek gets into the royal palace in Boktor by telling a member of the Drasnian Intelligence that "the salmon is running late". The second time he uses this phrase, the Drasnian spy remarks to the Queen that he "takes a very keen interest in the salmon runs".
* The ''[[Franchise/StarTrekNovelVerse Star Trek]]'' novel "Enemy Unseen" dealt with an murderous imposter who could mimic any of the crew. In order to protect their key witness, Captain Kirk gives the security guards protecting the witness orders to demand anyone (including himself) who wishes to see the "prisoner" respond to the statement "'Tis a wee bit early for playing poker, is it not sir?" with the answer "It's later than you think." Anyone who doesn't respond immediately is to be stunned and taken into custody.
* In Creator/MichaelInnes' ''From London Far'' the main character absently quotes a line or two of verse in a tobacconist's. When the clerk gives him a funny look he says simply "London: a Poem." and the clerk, who thinks he said "London's goin'," replies "Rotterdam's gone" and allows him entry to what turns out to be a base of operations for some rather high-class art smugglers/thieves.
* Lampshaded in Manning Coles' ''Drink to Yesterday'' when agent Tommy Hambledon remarks to the much younger and more naive Michael Kingston/Bill Saunders:
-->"...Do get out of your head these ideas about elaborate plans which are so popular in fiction. You know: At eight forty-four and one half precisely you will walk past the automatic weighing-machine on the down platform, and a man in a pale-blue Homburg hat will pass you and murmur either 'Catfish,' 'Plaice' or 'Cod,' or 'Salmon.' 'Catfish' means the courier is a large savage man armed to the teeth who never sleeps, with an escort of eight of the Prussian Guard so alert that they take it in turns to breathe. That's to let you know it's going to be a little bit difficult. 'Plaice' means that he will have a girl friend with him, so look out for squalls. That's rather a good one, pass the beer. 'Cod' means that, though he travels alone, he is a dangerous homicidal maniac who is quite sane till anybody touches his luggage, when a violent complex is suddenly released and he is possessed with a passion for peritoneotomy--"\\
"What's that?"\\
"What Jack the Ripper did. 'Salmon' means that he is a weak little man suffering from incipient sleeping-sickness. Salmon is never served up on our job..."
* In ''The Restoration Game'' by Creator/KenMacLeod, this is how Ross Stewart exchanges briefcases with his [[{{Ruritania}} Krassnian]] contact; a brief sign/countersign about cigarettes followed by a complete non sequitur just to be on the safe side.
* In Peter Benchley's ''Q Clearance'', a Soviet spy in Washington DC is supposed to receive a package from an courier. He and his handler try to come up with the appropriate SpySpeak to prove his ''bona fides''. The spy considers the handler's dialog suggestion impossibly polite for the urban neighborhood:
-->'''Teal:''' Your contact is in a phone booth on the corner.\\
'''Pym:''' OK, I'll go get the package from him.\\
'''Teal:''' Wait! How will he know it's you?\\
'''Pym:''' I'll tell him who I am and ask for it.\\
'''Teal:''' No, no! Think, man! Craft!... you say, "Is this phone out of order?" He'll say, "No, but I'm waiting for a call." You say, "I'll find another phone then."\\
'''Pym:''' (''thinking'') In ''this'' neighborhood? It'll be more like "Is this phone broke?" "The fuck's it to you?" "I gotta make a fuckin' call." "You touch that fuckin' phone, I'll break all your fuckin' fingers."
* Inverted in Polish s-f novel 'Paradise, the World in Orbit' by Janusz Zajdel. The novel depicts the totalitarian state where citizens use 'koalang' (associative-allusive language) to mask anything that might be considered subversive by the [[StateSec secret police]], especially when speaking in public, for example:
-->'''Man:''' The gray angel entered my dreams uncannily (Policeman infiltrated my home thinking I'm asleep)\\
'''Girl:''' Has emptiness filled the shard of space? (Did he take something?)\\
'''Man:''' Though a ferret past in the time extended, my hand's voice curtain was left untouched. But hyena's longing still strong remain. (Even though he was searching for a long time, he didn't find my communication jammer. But it's likely the bastard will return soon).
* Several variations on these types of code show up in Timothy Zahn's ''StarWars'' novels, most prominently in TheThrawnTrilogy. In one case, Han and Leia are discussing Admiral Ackbar's political situation, disguising it by talking about his family life (although it's not perfect since, as Han points out, it was an improvised code and they really ought to have set it up in advance). In the annotated edition, Zahn relates how this was inspired by a discussion he himself had with a few friends while first writing the novel. In the middle of a restaurant full of Star Wars fans, and under strict orders not to reveal that he was working on a new novel, he was forced to talk around the identities of his characters (such as using "Brother" and "Sister" for Luke and Leia).
** Another version, in the same novel, involves an open comm channel between the ''Falcon'' and some escort starfighters. Han orders the pilots to use the Cracken Twist, which causes them to [[AttackPatternAlpha move into a new escort formation]], then transmits some rendezvous coordinates. He then explains to Leia that the formation is just window dressing; the "Cracken Twist" is really an instruction to transpose the coordinates to reach their real destination.
** In ''[[HandOfThrawn Vision of the Future]]'' Han Solo, suspecting that his communications were being monitored by Imperial ships, sent a message to Lando Calrissian to rendezvous with him "two systems rimward from where you had no choice". In other words, two systems towards the galactic rim from Bespin, where [[TheEmpireStrikesBack Lando was forced to hand Han and Leia over to Vader]]. (Alluding to his line, "Sorry, Han, but I had no choice.") Later in the same novel, General bel Iblis issues a recall order to two Rogue Squadron pilots (who are operating anonymously) reading simply "This is father. All is forgiven; come home at once."
* In ''StarTrekColdEquations'', Thot Raas of the Breen has this to say in a transmission to his superior: ‘At sunset, the weevil digs in the grain. Raptors circle the hollow. The steed stands in the forest. The farmer must ring the bell before dark.’
* In the second book of TheBabysittersClub, the girls are worried about the possibility of a crook from the news (or any crook for that matter) showing up while they're on the job and how suspicious it would look for them to call the police so they come up with the following: The girl who thinks there's something up calls up a friend and asks "Have you found my red ribbon?" The person receiving the call responds "No; the blue one." which is followed by "Oh; that's okay." if the caller isn't sure there's trouble or "Now I'm gonna get it." to signify "I'm in deep trouble; call the police ASAP!"
* Often in The Resistance Trilogy by Clive Egleton the main character would be having an innocuous discussion with someone he's apparently met at random, only for it to be revealed they're members of LaRésistance when they change subject, but with no mention of what words of the conversation were the sign/countersign.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Used quite a bit in ''Series/AlloAllo''.
** René repeatedly gets told codewords, which are generally misused, forgotten, given to the wrong person, and such. Commonly he'll skip straight past them with a line like "I know it's you, you old fool, now just give me the batteries."
** A classic example in episode 1 had the other person unable to deliver the line (asking for matches), as his cigarette is lit before he can say anything. Not only that, but René couldn't give the correct response ("I don't have any matches") as he had been given a box of them only a minute earlier by Lieutenant Gruber. And just to top it off, René ends up MistakenForGay.
--->"Is he one of us?"\\
"[[CrowningMomentOfFunny No, he's one of]] ''them''!"
** The code-talk over the radio is actually analyzed by the Gestapo at one point and found to make a twisted sort of sense.
** Officer Crabtree was supposed to bring René some dynamite, hidden in his trousers. He would say the line to René "You may notice I am walking very gingerly." But before he can get there, Lieutenant Gruber comes into the cafe and has this exchange with René:
--->'''Lieutenant Gruber:''' "You may notice I am walking very gingerly."[[note]]He was sore from spending the day exercising the Colonel's horses.[[/note]]\\
'''René Artois:''' "Please do not tell me you have dynamite in your trousers."\\
'''Lieutenant Gruber:''' "Do not believe everything you hear, René."
** One time, René had the radio behind the bar in the cafe, and it started spouting code phrases intended for LaResistance members. Lieutenant Gruber gets suspicious, and asks where the nonsensical phrases like "Pierre enjoys riding his new bicycle" are coming from. René claims that he was the one speaking. That makes René all the more horrified when the next phrase emitted from the radio is "Listen very carefully. Meet me behind the woodshed at one o'clock," which Lieutenant Gruber mistakes for an overture for a homosexual tryst.
* ''Series/HogansHeroes'' varies between speaking plainly and using code, apparently completely at random.
* Polish spy drama CultClassic ''Stawka Większa Niż Życie'' has this famous exchange: "The best chestnuts are [to be found] on Pigalle Square." "Susan likes them only in the autumn."
* Many ''Series/MissionImpossible'' episodes began with one of these. Jim Phelps would go somewhere and have an innocuous conversation. When he would insist on a detail, they took him to the self-destructing tape.
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus''
** In a sketch, a man goes into a bookshop and the owner keeps talking to him like this.
** Another Python sketch features a trio of KGB agents who get confused by their own code:
--->'''Bag:''' Who's giving the orders round here?\\
'''Grip:''' I am. I'm senior to you.\\
'''Bag:''' No, you're not. You're a greengrocer, I'm an insurance salesman.\\
'''Grip:''' Greengrocers are senior to insurance salesman.\\
'''Bag:''' No they're not!\\
'''Wallet:''' Cool it. I'm an ice-cream salesman and I am senior to both of you.\\
'''Bag:''' You're an ice-cream salesman? I thought you were a veterinarian.\\
'''Wallet:''' I got promoted. Let's go.
* ''TriggerHappyTV''
** The "spy" skits had these:
--->'''Spy:''' In Leningrad the boulevards are bigger than Paris, yes?\\
'''Guy on train:''' I've never been in Leningrad.\\
'''Spy:''' You have the briefcase, you are White Bear?
** As ''TriggerHappyTV'' is a hidden camera show, they occasionally parody it further. For instance, if the spy discovers that the person he is talking to is not "Grey Squirrel" then he will get up and move on, followed by a man in a full body grey squirrel costume coming and sitting in his place a few moments later, much to the confusion of bystanders.
* ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' and other shows dealing with cops trying to catch Mafia dons run into Variant #1 a lot: the don orders a hit, the cops and [=DAs=] argue that it means murder-for-hire, and the defense attorney plaintively says "He was just asking about an apartment!" (Or whatever the on-the-face conversation was.)
* Parodied in the series ''Series/{{Adderly}}'': supervisor Greenspan, convinced his office is bugged, demands that his staff speak entirely in convoluted code-phrases (even when discussing whether they want sugar in their coffee). Adderly replies with an annoyed, "Dead parrots rarely sing."; Greenspan pulls out his code book and laboriously translates this, word by word, to mean, ''"This... conversation... is... ridiculous."''
* Parodied on the game show ''Series/WhereInTheWorldIsCarmenSandiego''. In one type of clue, this girl spy would tell Greg something that ''sounds'' like code, but it's not: it's expanded to be the clue pointing to the next location.
* ''Series/LALaw'': Douglas Brackman is ordering sushi for the first time and asks the beautiful woman sitting next to him for advice, using terms from the menu such as "hand roll." She's an undercover vice cop and arrests him for solicitation of prostitution -- dropping the charges in great embarrassment when shown the menu.
* ''Series/BurnNotice''
** Lampshaded when Michael has to leave a message for the man he was supposed to meet but is called away. He mentions that spy speak is only successful when the other party can figure out what the message means, otherwise you're just wasting everyone's time. Fortunately, the other man does figure out that "John 3:14" written on the sidewalk in chalk means "St. John's Cathedral at 3:14pm."
** Lampshaded a second time when Michael realizes his phone is bugged. He ties up the surveillance team by calling random phone numbers and saying nonsensical things to whoever picks up, counting on the fact that the surveillance team will assume that he's relaying information in code and will waste hours of time trying to figure out what he's relaying.
** Another episode has Michael getting information from his team, which is disguised as a random conversation. Maddie rebuffs Jesse's offer to explain and translate the code herself:
--->"Mr.Vane means there's a weather vane. Gray hair means a gray roof, and presidential refers to a white house."
* ''Series/{{Lost}}''
** Subversion: in the episode "The Man from Tallahassee", Locke is hiding in Ben's closet with a gun to Alex's head. Ben asks Richard to bring him the "Man from Tallahassee". Afterward, Locke asks if that was a code. Ben replies, "[[DeadpanSnarker No, John, unfortunately we don't have a code for 'There's a man in my closet with a gun to my daughter's head.' Although we obviously should.]]"
** Later played straight in the Season 5 finale. The response was given in Latin.
** The best example is in season 4.
--->'''Naomi:''' I'm sorry, George. Tell my sister I love her.
* Mob-specific Spy Speak is a fixture on ''Series/TheSopranos''.
** For instance, "we're bringing in some tailors from Sicily to do the job, why don't you see about getting them some scissors."
** Also lampshaded, subverted, and parodied to hell and back at various points.
--->'''Anthony Infante:''' Listen, as far as that thing goes... the coffee with the chicory...\\
'''Johnny Sack:''' The fuck is that?\\
'''Anthony Infante:''' Oh shit. I suck at talkin' like this John, I'm sorry. Our friend with the stomach.\\
'''Johnny Sack:''' In town or near home?\\
'''Anthony Infante:''' Your neighbor. A.S...?\\
'''Johnny Sack:''' Yeah, all right. Just say "the thing I asked you to do." The coffee with the fuckin' chicory... Is he gonna get it for me?\\
'''Anthony Infante:''' Yes. Bad news is that he wants ten cups for himself. Not seven.\\
'''Johnny Sack:''' Alright. Done. Did you pick up the birthday cake for Gin with the marzipan flowers?\\
'''Anthony Infante:''' The... stuff behind the pool...?\\
'''Johnny Sack:''' No, an ''actual fuckin' cake''! It's her ''birthday''!
* ''Series/TheBennyHillShow''
** There's a sketch in which Hill is sitting on a park bench between two Spy Speakers. Faced with their "bizarre" code phrases, he would inject things like "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts."
** That's not the only sketch making fun of Spy Speak; there's also an extended exchange in another spoof with a trio of spies in Istanbul exchanging increasingly nonsensical code phrases, some with AccidentalInnuendo.
* Col. Flagg on ''Series/{{Mash}}'' uses this in official communications, though also in regular speech. Favors the unrelated phrases variety.
-->'''Flagg:''' Alright, Corporal, read back what you've got.\\
'''Radar:''' Uh, yes sir. To the Far East Export Import Company, 27 Zapata Circle, Ti-joo-ana, Mexico.\\
'''Flagg:''' Right, go on.\\
'''Radar:''' Yes sir. Mary had a little lamb. Stop. My dog has fleas. Stop.\\
'''Flagg:''' Good, there's a bit more. Mairzy doats and dozey doats, and I'll be home for Christmas. Got that?\\
'''Radar:''' Uh... in just a moment, sir. Uh, okay.\\
'''Flagg:''' Sign it: Your loving son, Queen Victoria.
* Parodied in the ''GilmoreGirls'' episode "The Third Lorelai".
-->'''Lorelai:''' (''answering the phone'') Independence Inn.\\
'''Emily:''' I need the hat rack.\\
'''Lorelai:''' (''mysteriously'') The fish flies at night!\\
'''Emily:''' What?\\
'''Lorelai:''' I don't know. Who is this?
* Happened at least once on ''Series/CriminalMinds''. Fortunately the team genius was the person they needed to contact.
* ''Series/{{House}}''
** In "All In", Wilson parodies this when House phones him while playing cards.
--->'''House:''' Keep your answers short and discreet. Is Cuddy still playing?\\
'''Wilson:''' The chicken is still in Picadilly Square.
** Played (somewhat) [[NoPunIntended straighter]] in "The Down Low" where House gets around a drug dealer's reluctance to talk about his cocaine business by referring to the product as "Culottes".
--->'''House:''' So do you cut the culottes yourself or do they get cut by the individual tailors on the street?
* ''Series/GetSmart''
** Parodied, naturally, in the first episode. Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, who has yet to meet 99, has been told by the Chief that Agent 99 will approach Max in a public location by informing him of one team beating another in baseball. Unfortunately, that team actually manages to beat the other team on the day before, so ''everybody'' is saying it. Max almost ignores her until she says the score was 99 to 86. And the fact that it was "Mets win double header" that was such a remarkable headline might be a TakeThat to the pre-'69 "Lovable Losers".
** Also spoofed with the ridiculous sign/countersign when Max first meet Hymie.
--->'''Hymie:''' The blue sun melts the red snow.\\
'''Smart:''' And the purple water runs up hill.
** On another occasion the sign/countersign is the lyrics to ''Dixie''. Max and his contact end up singing a duet.
* ''Series/BabylonFive''
** Kosh speaks entirely in Spy Speak, which frustrates the humans ([[BetterOnDVD including the audience]]) to no end. At one point, Sheridan is being mentored by Kosh. Ivanova quips that it must be working, because he's [[LampshadeHanging starting to sound like a Vorlon]]. There is also one conversation which consisted entirely of {{Ice Cream Koan}}s. When the frustrated telepath Talia Winters remarks that the conversation was entirely pointless (and there was nothing going on with telepathy either), Kosh replies: "Listen to the music, not the song".
** From time to time, various characters on the show find themselves discussing issues with various forms of CrypticConversation or {{Trust Password}}s. At one point, [[DaChief Garibaldi]] is given a task [[UnspokenPlanGuarantee not revealed to the audience]] and told that, when he has completed it, he and [[TheCaptain Sheridan]] will TalkAboutTheWeather. [[note]] His task was to have a pair of high-yield nukes fitted to the White Star to be used as a ActionBomb suicide weapon.[[/note]]
** In the fourth season, one of the characters has snuck to Mars to meet up with LaResistance, and sends back a status report entirely in code phrases. {{Lampshaded}} by the leader of LaResistance who calls it "Nice and cryptic."
* ''Series/ABitOfFryAndLaurie'' has a sketch in which "Good morning" is used as Spy Speak. [[HilarityEnsues It doesn't work very well.]]
** Also hilariously {{Averted}} in the "Tony and Control" sketches, which feature two high ranking intelligence officials who speak in simple naive terms that you could almost use if talking to a three-year-old.
-->'''Tony''': Do you remember we decided to put a tail on the new Cultural Attache at the Russian Embassy?
-->'''Control''': Yes, I do remember. I remember the very day we talked about it. We thought he might be a spy working for the KGB, and I said, "Let's follow him around and see if he does anything that might look suspicious."
* In ''Series/TheSandbaggers'', whenever anyone is reporting in from the field, the conversations are always heavily couched in metaphor. On the other hand, the speech avoids the sign/countersign form, and the "disguise" is a light one -- usually something along the lines of a manager speaking to his salesmen in the field. Apart from the true nature of their "business," the roles are in fact strongly analogous.
* Paul Merton is fond of this trope. When ARareSentence comes up on ''Series/HaveIGotNewsForYou'', he will often say it sounds like something spies would use as code. And his TV show had a sketch where the RevealShot at the end showed that the pond where the two spies were feeding ducks as they had their cryptic conversation was entirely surrounded by other guys in trench coats and fedoras doing the same thing.
* Parodied in a ''Series/NotTheNineOClockNews'' sketch where it turned out that only one of the men involved was a spy; the other was cruising. ("Spy? Spy? No boyfriend of mine goes out to work!")
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVriy-_uviE This]] ''[[Series/TheArmstrongAndMillerShow Armstrong and Miller]]'' sketch was set in a tanning salon, which used far too obvious SpySpeak, such as "I'd like to use a sunbed" and "Do you do spray tanning" as their codewords, leading to some very confused people.
* In an early ''Series/FamilyTies'' episode, Elyse's brother Ned (played by Creator/TomHanks), a high-ranking corporate exec, embezzled funds from his company in order to sabotage a company closure that would put hundreds of people out of business. At one point he answered the phone, "The falcon has landed. The fat man walks alone. Repeat: The falcon has landed. The fat man walks alone."
* Attempted near the end of ''GreenWing'' when Joanna and Statham are fleeing the police.
-->'''Boyce:''' The weasel is still in its cage. The weasel is still in its cage... The weasel is out of the cage! The weasel is out of the cage! Fly, pelicans! Go, go - The weasel is returning to the cage! The weasel is returning to the cage, so pelicans to the kitchen! Pelicans, go to the kitchen. Go to the kitchen! The kitchen! The bush! The kitchen is the bush!
* ''Series/ThePalace'': In the first episode, Superintendent Bayfield informs Prince Richard of his father's passing with the words "tower bridge." Presumably they settled on the signal long ago in case the news needed to be broken in a public location, such as the nightclub bathroom where the scene occurs.\\\
In Real Life, all the senior royal's funerals are planned well in advance, as befits such a complicated ceremony. To make it easier to talk about, each funeral is assigned the name of a bridge as a code name. The Queen Mother's was called "Tay Bridge" after a bridge in her Scottish homeland. The Sovereign's funeral is always code-named "Tower Bridge"
* ''Series/NedsDeclassifiedSchoolSurvivalGuide'':
-->'''Quirley:''' (''knocks'') The weasel runs at midnight.
* ''Franchise/{{Dragnet}}'' has this in episodes that usually involve illegal bookmaking operations -- one set of codes for placing bets, and another for paying off winners.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'': Sam and Dean have the codephrase "Funky Town"; Dean uses this to tell Sam he's in trouble and has a gun pointed at him.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** Xander sends Willow a text message in code that either means he's about to score or he's being attacked by a demon; [[ButtMonkey with Xander's luck]], they realize it has to be the latter.
** Agents of the covert military demon-fighting unit The Initiative speak this way, causing the Scoobies to dub it "Riley Speak" (after Buffy's Initiative boyfriend Riley Finn) whenever they such codes themselves as opposed to their usual BuffySpeak.
* On ''Series/TheAmazingRace'', one challenge taking place in Washington, D.C. had the racers exchanging a briefcase with a spy after exchanging code phrases. Apparently, the producers liked it because they did it again in a later season.
* An early episode of ''Series/{{Benson}}'' had a revolutionary attempt to contact another at a party using this method. However, he talks to Benson by mistake and Benson is not in on the code.
-->'''Revolutionary:''' The road has many turns.\\
'''Benson:''' Hmm?\\
'''Revolutionary:''' The road has many turns.\\
'''Benson:''' Well, drive carefully.
* In ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', Ted uses this to discreetly refer to an art-school tryout that Lily doesn't want Marshall to know about (because attending the school would conflict with their wedding).
-->'''Ted:''' So Lil, did you, uh... get the milk?\\
'''Lily:''' (''quietly'') Yeah... yeah, I got it.\\
'''Ted:''' You think you might want to... ''drink'' the milk?\\
'''Lily:''' Nope. (''smiles'') Nope, I'm good. I don't need any milk.\\
'''Marshall:''' Look guys, [[LiteralMinded I know milk is important.]] It's got vitamin A, vitamin D... it's a great way to start the morning, but Ted just had a huge date! How'd it go, dude?
* An old ''SaturdayNightLive'' sketch parodied WWII spy movies, using phrases like "Cats are nothing more than effeminate dogs."
** A sketch that aired not long after 9/11 showed FBI agents wiretapping a phone call between two old ladies, losing interest as they slowly realized the conversation was innocuous, then suddenly paying attention again when an exchange like this would happen:
-->"How old are your grandkids?"
-->"Oh, about 9, 11..."
:::(The seemingly subverted trope is ultimately played straight at the end of the sketch, after the FBI agents hang up, when it is revealed that the old ladies were actually planning a terrorist attack.)
* Parodied in ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', episode 3:
-->'''Sky''': Skipper to Bravo. I got eyes on Top Dog. The Eagle is landing.
-->'''Simmons''': What are you doing?
-->'''Sky''': Uh, sorry. I ... I dunno. I see Quinn, I'm gonna go talk to him.
** Played straight in "T.A.H.I.T.I.". When the team arrives at the Guest House facility, the guards greet them with "How was the ride from Istanbul?" None of them know the countersign, it's not in any of SHIELD's databases, and the guards refuse to say anything else. So, the team ends up having to fight their way in.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'' had an version that if an national crisis took place during an public event in the white house someone would walk over to the cabinet-members, the president what have you and as casual as posible interrupt whatever they were doing with an "Excuse me, Leo [=McGarry=] [The President's Chief of Staff] would like you to say hello to an old friend of his", this meaning "Follow me, ASAP".
* Explained in the ''{{Series/JAG}}'' episode "Soul Searching" when a CIA agent that Admiral Chegwidden believes "saved his soul" in Vietnam is captured, and he and Webb go to rescue him. Chegwidden and the agent had worked out a code back then, with the key phrase being "It's a great day for baseball at Ebbets Field. I hear you used to umpire there." The agent would respond by identifying locations on a baseball field (first base, right field, the press box, etc.), with the agent being home plate, where enemy soldiers would be for Chegwidden to snipe.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Radio]]
* In an episode of ''Radio/TheNewsQuiz'' Sandi Toksvig revealed that she had been approached by MI5 at university (because she could fit in a suitcase). Bob Mills replied that it had always confused him when she said "And at the end of that round, the daffodils are blooming in Bucharest".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* As ''TabletopGame/DeltaGreen'' is all about the top secret inter-departmental conspiracy that deals with the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos, there's a fair bit of this. For instance, the most common way to let an agent know they've got a mission is to call them up and say, "You are invited to a night at the opera."
* From the back of the box of ''TabletopGame/{{Dominion}}: Intrigue'':
-->''A passing servant murmurs, "The eggs are on the plate." You frantically search your codebook for the translation before realizing he means that breakfast is ready. Excellent. Everything is going according to plan.''
* ''Dying Earth'' RPG adventure "[[http://www.dyingearth.com/violetcusps_files/Exasperating.zip The Exasperating Cadaver]]" on the Dying Earth website. The {{PC}}s are told that when they pick up the package they will be told "The owl hoots twice" and they are to respond "But not tonight." When they drop off the package with Penderbast they are to say "I hope we have not come at an inopportune moment." and Penderbast will reply "Your arrival is anticipated and sought after."
* [[TimeMaster Span]][[TimeTravel ners]] in ''TabletopGame/{{Continuum}}'' use a form of sign/countersign to identify other spanners. They ask what time it is. [[{{Muggles}} Levellers]] will respond with the time. Other spanners will respond by repeating the question back to the asker, word for word.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* Creator/TomStoppard's ''The Coast of Utopia''
** Any time Mikhail Bakunin is around.
--->'''Bakunin:''' The Green Canary flies at Dawn!
** Even funnier because of his LargeHam egoist tendencies:
--->'''Bakunin:''' (''confidentially'') The green canary flies tonight -- ten o'clock -- usual place -- pass it on.\\
'''Sazonov:''' I told ''you''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TheSecretOfMonkeyIsland'' has the possible exchange:
-->'''Map salesman:''' Excuse me, do you have a cousin named Sven?\\
'''Guybrush:''' No, but I once had a barber named Dominique.\\
'''Map salesman:''' Close enough.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII''. Player has to pick the correct response:
-->'''Man:''' Boy, the forests of Timber sure have ch-changed!\\
'''Squall:''' But the owls are still around.
:: You can screw it up by saying "Moogles" or "Chocobos" instead of owls, but he recognizes you anyway... and your [=SeeD=] rank drops.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'' plays this trope straight, requiring one to get a code from NPC A and give it to NPC B every now and then. This led to its BrokenBase among fans.
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'', as a prequel title, has one of the big questions of ''[=MGS2=]'' as a call sign for Snake to identify himself to ADAM: "Who are the patriots?" The correct reply "La Li Lu Le Lo" (which is like ''the XYZ'' in the Japanese letter system) also explains how that phrase became an alternate name for the Patriots, [[spoiler:since Snake and ADAM were among the founders of the organization they later called "The Patriots".]]
* One of the missions in ''VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever'' involves exchanging these codephrases with several deep cover spies in East Germany. However, since Cate Archer, the player/protagonist, is a woman in the pre-feminist 1960's, all of the code phrases are crass come-ons from the spies and "witty" shootdowns from Cate. Most of them are at least apologetic about it.
* Christopher Mills uses this to get in contact with Garcian Smith in ''VideoGame/{{Killer7}}''. Whenever he has a new assignment for him, he leaves a message on his answering machine, pretending to be calling around on behalf of the Republic Party (to prevent wire tapping), which serves as a signal for Harman to [[TakeItToTheBridge come see him at the overpass]].
* In ''VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry II'', Larry's hapless MyHovercraftIsFullOfEels attempt to woo a Spanish-speaking woman happen to be the sign/countersign to land him a microfilm full of state secrets and the pursuit of KGB agents who were supposed to receive it.
-->'''Larry:''' My pencil is long, hard and yellow.\\
'''Secret Agent Woman:''' Thank God, I've been wanting to pass this on forever.
* In indie game ''VideoGame/MountAndBlade'', you can sometimes get quests from your lords or king to receive spy's reports from enemy towns, in which you have to sneak past the border into the rival town, run around randomly reciting whatever phrase the lord or king had you memorize (from a list), looking like an idiot, until you find the spy.
* ''VideoGame/PizzaTycoon''
** You can buy weapons from the mob (to wreck your competitors' places). Naturally, this is illegal, so you can't just ask for them; if you do, the dealer sics the cops on you. Instead, you have to order ice cream... at thousands of dollars a "scoop".
** Same thing if you bribe the police. Openly offering a bribe will get you busted. Asking the cop if he "lost this wallet" on the other hand...
* In a ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' mission cutscene, you overhear [[TheMenInBlack government agent]] Mike Toreno's radio conversation:
-->'''Mike Toreno:''' Roger that, Big Monkey, I got a 13-6 fat vulture. Need to acquire a drowning baby. Over. [gets interrupted by Carl's arrival] In 15 by the moon. Break your heart. Over and out.
* In the ''[[VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice Sam & Max Save the World]]'' episode "The Mole, The Mob, and the Meatball", they are told to say the phrase "Does the carpet match the drapes" to another agent. The response the other agent is supposed to give: "Why I never...!" and slap them on the cheek.
* ''Franchise/DragonAge''
** There is a sidequest in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' involving gaining entrance to a secret meeting using the phrase "the griffins will rise again". The Warden has the option of being silly and saying either "sausage" or "the grey nug flies north for the winter" instead.
** In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', Snarky!Hawke has some fun with this:
--->'''Hawke:''' Oooh, cloak and dagger phrases! How about... the queasy crow... flies at midnight?
--->'''Mistress Selby:''' How about...the smart-mouthed Ferelden gets slapped across the face?
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx''
** In the original game, a random NPC in the Hell's Kitchen Clinic will ask JC "Who will help the widow's son?" and awkwardly excuse himself when JC doesn't understand. Though this is never stated in the game, the phrase is an old greeting and plea for assistance associated with the Freemasons.
** In one of the sidequests in ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'', Jensen has to meet a contact to pick up an autopsy report. The contact, who is obviously a geek who is just doing things this way because he takes the whole thing too seriously, is ''supposed'' to be greeted by the code phrase "Life and death have their determined appointments." Jensen can play it professionally and use the phrase like he's supposed to. Alternately, (and hilariously) he can dismiss the whole thing saying "Something something, death and taxes. Confucius." Or he can just walk up to the contact and demand the information.
* ''VideoGame/EnterTheMatrix'': Niobe and Ghost's cryptic messages on airport pay-phones (something about "a bouquet of roses delivered at midnight").
* In ''VideoGame/HotlineMiami'', the hitman protagonist gets his orders via seemingly mundane phone messages, like reminders of appointments or invitations all mentioning specific addresses. Obviously, his actual orders are to go to those addresses and kill everyone there.
** After each mission, the protagonist visits one of several businesses (such as a pizza place, a VHS store, a night club, etc) and always meets the same clerk who will make small talk and offer him something for free. Though it's never explained, a popular fan theory claims that this is a cover for the hitman's payment.
* ''Website/AssassinsCreedInitiates'' shows the Assassin Order sending e-mails like this, often using business terms which refer to the Templars and Abstergo as their main competitors or rivals. Adriano Maestranzi sends one e-mail to William Miles that states that one of their business associates had to leave Whistler, Canada because "[[SoleSurvivor he didn't want to be "buried" in work there, like his colleagues]]", and later follows it up by stating that their business rivals there were led by an old rival who "[[DeadlyEuphemism deceived]]" their CEO back in 2000.
* Indie video game ''Spy Party'' has one of the possible missions as this; the Spy must signal the Double Agent with a Key Word type of spy-speak. They can also fake signals in a conversation to throw off the Sniper, who can listen to conversations to try and determine if the spy is signaling anyone. The problem is that the signal is always "banana bread," which sticks out in the otherwise humdrum background party conversation like a sore thumb. This has lead many players to refer to any attempt (real or faked) to signal a Double Agent as "banana breading."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* [[http://www.somethingawful.com/d/flash-tub/jefferson-brothers-espionage.php A Flash Tub]] on Website/SomethingAwful:
-->'''Ralph:''' The crow forgets his luggage!\\
'''Jeff:''' What?!
* ''WebVideo/UltraFastPony''. In "Stay Tuned!", Rainbow Dash pranks Twilight Sparkle by telling her to give a sign/countersign at a dropoff. The sign is nonsense, and completely unnecessary.
-->'''Twilight:''' The dawn cow barks at the lonely sponge on a midsummer's eve.\\
'''Mrs. Cake:''' Damn it all, what are you talking about, girl?

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* It's not really spies, but in ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'', Faye is on the phone with her mother while she's having lunch with Marten. At the end of the conversation, she says, "The peaches are MOST DEFINITELY NOT RIPE. Goodbye." She then explains that it's their code word just in case Faye was taken against her will.
* ''Webcomic/GeneralProtectionFault'': Fooker receives a message in spy speak, but [[http://www.gpf-comics.com/archive.php?d=20000719 he replies in plain English.]]
* Shelly tries it in ''Webcomic/ScaryGoRound'', but it doesn't help that she's a bit of a {{Cloudcuckoolander}}:
-->'''Shelly:''' Red Rover, this is Danger Bunny! ''The owl is in his tree!'' Also, ''Danger Bunny'' needs a ''tetanus shot!''\\
'''Mike:''' The what? "The scallop is entering the briny deep?" Shelley, I think the idea is that the code is ''pre-agreed.''
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}''
** Spoofed with SummerGlau.
--->"She says, plan gamma acknowledged, the meerkats are in the bag. So we're good?"\\
"That depends. Do you see an actual bag of meerkats?"\\
"No."\\
"Then we're probably good."
** And again in [[http://xkcd.com/733/ this strip]].
* ''PeterIsTheWolf'' has an extensive code language for lycanthropes and informed Main/{{Muggles}}.
* Mr. Verres of ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', being a [[TheMenInBlack government agent]], gets to use this from time to time. Unfortunately, [[http://egscomics.com/?date=2003-10-02 some things sound less cool in code.]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''
** In [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0377.html "Travel Delays"]], it's a necessity for Nale, since Sabine could have any appearance.
--->'''Sabine-as-Azurite:''' (''whispering'') Psssssst! "Beware the green monkey."\\
'''Nale-as-Elan:''' (''whispering'') "He barks at midnight."
** Also parodied in the prequel book ''Start of Darkness''; see the Comic Books folder above.
* Done in ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' quite often, between teams of mercs/soldiers. Hilariously subverted [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2009-05-10 here]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' has a couple examples:
** First, in [[http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/hive-5-5/ Chapter 5.5]], Tattletale comes up with the following (which doubles as a source of {{Trust Password}}s on a few occasions):
--->'''Tattletale:''' We'll be using a password system every time we check in, in case you're taken hostage and forced to answer a call. Two parts to it. The first part is simple, you give the other person the first letter of one of our names, the other person replies with the last. If it winds up being a longer night, move on to other people we know. [...] The second part is color based. When you're replying to a call, name an object that's a certain color. Think traffic lights. Green for go, everything is okay. Yellow for warning, if you aren't sure about things. Red for stop, need help. It lets you keep us informed without tipping off the capes that are with you.
** Second, in [[http://parahumans.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/chrysalis-20-1/ Chapter 20.1]], we see that Skitter has developed an open code so that she and her minions can covertly exchange information via text message without raising any flags if someone sees their text messages.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''
** The Order of the White Lotus members use this.
-->'''Man:''' Who knocks at the guarded gate?\\
'''Iroh:''' One who has eaten the fruit and tasted its mysteries.
** Before this, they actually had a Spy ''Board Game'' which ''also'' started off with two lines of coded dialogue.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'' episode "In Like Ed":
-->'''Eddy:''' The crow caws at midnight.\\
'''Rolf:''' And the cat sours the basil. Rolf would love to talk politics, but I ''must see your invitation!''
* Also parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Dilbert}}'' cartoon, where one of the requirements in the beefed-up corporate security was speaking in codes like this, among other things...
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' "Slalom! Slalom!"
* Parodied/Subverted with two of Megabyte's cronies in ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'', who would confound and annoy their boss by speaking like this:
-->'''Binome:''' The jam is moldy in the kitchen, and the rolling rabbit gathers no moss.\\
'''Megabyte:''' What ''are'' you talking about?
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' has the following exchange:
-->'''Herman:''' Password?\\
'''Grampa:''' Let me in you idiot!\\
'''Herman:''' Right you are. (''opens door'')
* Pete White in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'':
-->'''Pete:''' Hello, Goldilocks? This is Casper. ComicStrip/LittleNemo has fallen out of bed.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales'', the protagonists visit a restaurant full of spies speaking Spy Speak.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'', when Peter goes to a pet shop being used as a front by the mob, that they ''know'' is bugged by the feds.
-->'''Mob Customer:''' I'd like to buy a "bunny". (''makes air quotes'')\\
'''Mob Shopkeeper:''' What kind of "bunny"? A fully-automatic "bunny", or a hand-held "bunny"?\\
'''Mob Customer:''' The kind of "bunny" that would be best for shooting a guy in the head.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom''
-->'''Sam:''' Clueless-1, this is Goth-1. Over.\\
'''Danny:''' Goth-1, this is Clueless-1. Why am I Clueless-1?\\
'''Tucker:''' Tell him!\\
'''Sam:''' ''Shut it!''
* Featured as a gag in an early episode of ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'', where we see a conversation between two Pottsylvanians that turns out to be in spy-speak, translated by the {{narrator}}.
* ''WesternAnimation/XMenEvolution''
-->'''Kurt:''' (''looking at the girls through a pair of binoculars'') Blue Boy to Tracker One, do you read me? The pigeons are leaving the roost. (''camera pans down to see Scott sitting next to him'')\\
'''Scott:''' Kurt, I'm right here. And why are you talking like that?
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/DonkeyKongCountry'' had Klump trying this. K.Rool was not impressed.
-->'''Lump:''' ''The fog was thick and dense.''\\
'''K.Rool:''' Like your brain.\\
'''Klump:''' No no, I mean the air is thick with enemies! Code-talk! So no one will understand me.\\
'''K.Rool:''' That's a given on the best of days, Klump.
* ''WesternAnimation/JosieAndThePussycats''. In the episode ""Never Mind A Master Mind". Melody tries to trade in wooden blocks for purple wooden shoes at a shoe store. The shoe store is actually a front for a spy operation and the phrase Melody uses turns out to be a code phrase identifying the user as a secret agent. Melody is thus given the mission intended for the real agent.
* This was a major part of ''WesternAnimation/TheBrakShow'' episode "Shadows of Heat", where Brak's dad is involved in some conspiracy along with George Martinez, Hector Riviera and Rudolfo the Butcher. It turns out they're [[spoiler: planning Hector's bachelor party.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Famed undercover FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone (better known under his alias "Donnie Brasco") confirms that this is actually [[TruthInTelevision how a lot of modern Mafia members talk]] about "business". Because they can never be sure when law enforcement might be listening in, they tend to use the vaguest language possible, leading to such indecipherable statements as "Did you do the ''thing'', with the two guys, in the place? No, no, the ''other'' place." Deciphering recordings of this jargon can be be a nightmare for law enforcement, who often listen for hours and hours without the slightest idea as to what or whom is being discussed.
** Well law enforcement, if they managed to listen, usually knows well what they are speaking about... they just can't use it in court as evidence.
** During Henry Hill's (the mobster whose life ''Goodfellas'' was based on) trial, the Feds brought in actual jewelers to testify that the conversations Hill was having weren't actually related to jewelry work and were instead code for drug deals.
** There are stories around here of drug dealers using similar codes, talking about delivering different colours of paint to talk about different drugs or amounts of them. There are also stories of that going wrong in the obvious way...
*** A StupidCrooks website (which has sadly been taken down) reported a case where drug buyers would ask for drugs by asking the dealer (who worked at a fast food restaurant) for a certain kind of food. The operation was discovered when a normal customer asked for that certain kind of food and got drugs as a result. The moral of the story: If you use a code phrase for illegal items, don't make it something that could logically be asked for at that place.
* John Barron's non-fiction book ''KGB: The Hidden Hand'' tells of a KGB agent explaining to an American he'd recruited about the use of signs and counter-signs, whereupon the man burst out laughing -- he'd assumed that such talk had been a [[RealityIsUnrealistic ridiculous invention of spy novel writers]].
* Victor Suvorov, a former GRU (Soviet military intelligence, and [[InterserviceRivalry rival agency to the KGB]]) says in ''Inside the Aquarium: Making of a Top Soviet Spy'' that signs and code phrases used in the field should be as innocuous as possible (and usually accompanied with similarly innocuous behaviour, like holding a newspaper under one arm). He also describes at least two situations when he almost missed the sign himself while meeting with contacts.
** He also said in interviews that the academy where he trained had a regular name, a secret name and a top secret name. Not one of these reflected its nature as a SpySchool.
* People in Romania tried to use Spy Speak while talking about taboo subjects during the communist era. "Did the kids like the grapes I sent" was a possible analogy for asking if the family got the illegal books you bought in other countries. Granted, this never worked, as the state police did house wipes at the slightest suspicion. It did mean they have an excuse to beat someone up, empty their refrigerator and get praised for not killing/raping anyone.
* This was the purpose of Cockney rhyming slang (ex. apples and pears = stairs), which sounds absolutely silly to Americans.
* General Lloyd Fredendall, a US commander during World War 2, had a tendency to tell his staff to cut orders to subordinate commanders referring to "clouds," "popguns," "walking boys," and grid co-ordinates "starting with C." The unfortunate thing was that he never told anyone what his terms meant.
* A very common military strategy is for a soldier to challenge an approaching unknown with a number. The newcomer responds with another number, and their numbers should add up to a previously agreed upon number. A variation is to use hand signs to signal the numbers back and forth, while lessening the risk of outsiders overhearing the numbers. The number they are supposed to add up to will usually change from one day to the next as well.
** This is also particularly handy if you are wearing [[GasMaskMooks chem warfare gear]] that makes it difficult to talk clearly without shouting or to dig an ID card out of a pocket.
* Many forms of thieves' cant were invented exactly for this purpose. Russian ''ofenya'' is one of the modern examples.
* In cryptography, messages will be padded with nonsense for various reasons, depending on the encryption method used (including concealing the length of the message, or bringing it up to a whole number of blocks when using an encryption method that works on blocks of fixed size). During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Admiral Nimitz sent a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_world_wonders message]] to Admiral Halsey: "Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four?". Routing information and padding was added to the message, and it was then transmitted. Upon receiving it, Halsey's radio officer removed the padding on the front, but overlooked the padding on the back. So the message that got handed to Halsey was "Where is, repeat, where is Task Force Thirty Four? The world wonders." Halsey took this as a sarcastic insult (as well he might) and then deliberately delayed for an hour.
* In political debates, these are called "dog whistles" -- like SpySpeak, seemingly innocent phrases meant to give a cowardly debater plausible deniability if said debater wishes to hide or misrepresent their real opinions. The term, of course, comes from those whistles that dogs can hear and humans (usually) can't because they're outside the upper bounds of human frequency perception. A common one would be talking about "inner-city issues", which most people would understand as a veiled attack on ethnic minorities (who tend to live in the poorer downtown areas of American cities).
** To explain why a politician would want to take this risk: Dog-whistle words are usually used by politicians who belong to large, diverse parties (like the two all-inclusive parties in the US). They allow a politician to give subtle lip-service to the more extreme fringes of their party without (hopefully) offending the less radical center.
* This was fairly common practice in World War II naval codes. The names of locations would be meaningless nouns, so even if the code was cracked the enemy's information is limited. They may know a carrier task force is headed to "eggplant", but not what or where "eggplant" is. Adm. Yamamoto's task force had to sail for around two weeks to reach Pearl Harbor, during which Japan was still trying to come to a diplomatic solution. Yamamoto was to only attack Pearl Harbor if he received a transmission involving the words, "climb Mt. Niitaka." Sure enough, this message was received.\\\
This confusion played a major part in the Battle of Midway. The US knew the Japanese were on the way to AF, but didn't know where AF was. They sent a fake message in the clear stating that Midway was having trouble getting fresh water. Later they intercepted a Japanese message saying that AF was having fresh water trouble. That's how they found out the Japanese were going to attack Midway.
* Businesses such as malls, department stores, or movie theaters will often have a set of innocuous-sounding code phrases that can be announced over the PA or radios to alert employees to problems or threats. These are designed to sound like normal messages so as not to panic the customers.
** The stereotypical one being "Manager '''Red'''mond to storage room 5" to signify that storage room 5 is on fire.
** Some schools do this as well, where the office will page a former/deceased teacher or administrator as a signal to lock doors and turn off lights (as with a school shooting or similar incident).
* Passwords in Freemasonry use the sign/countersign technique but usually with gestures, letters, and sounds instead of words.
* Some taxi businesses use these. If a fare was proving to be troublesome, they have two innocuous-sounding phrases they can transmit as part of the usual taxi-to-despatch radio communications. One phrase means "need assistance", the other means "need police". They're subtle rephrasings of one of the standard status calls.
* US military operations used to be named with a form of this, assigned two random words (e.g. "Market Garden") to prevent anyone from inferring anything about the nature of the operation. Nowadays many are given more overtly PR-friendly names (e.g., "Iraqi Freedom" for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "Just Cause" for the 1989 invasion of Panama, "Tomodachi" (Japanese for "friend") for relief efforts following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake), though here it is more for [[http://thepunchlineismachismo.com/archives/comic/this-whole-storyline-was-supposed-to-happen-like-the-third-month-into-this-comic selling the action for public support]] as by now such large-scale actions are nigh impossible to keep secret, and in any case more specific actions whose knowledge might be useful to adversaries still have such intent-obscuring names (e.g., Operation [[Film/RedDawn1984 Red Dawn]] for the capture of Saddam Hussein, Operation Neptune Spear for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden).
** Other countries did this as well. To what extent the nature of the operation or project was betrayed by its name varied -- Nazi Germany, for example, on one hand had invasion plans for several countries tied to colors (ex: the first Fall Grun ["Plan Green"] were invasion plans of Czechoslovakia had the Munich Conference fallen apart), which worked out all right. On the other hand, all the British needed to know about a project Nazi Germany had was its name ("Wotan", the German name for a one-eyed Norse god) to deduce it was a new radar system using a single location -- obviously, that didn't do so well in the obscurity department.
** Another Nazi example is "operation sea lion", their plan for an assault and landing on the British coast. Note to all troperific generals: if it contains a clever reference to what you're planning to do, it's not a good code name.
** The British were known for honing the art of the NonIndicativeName. For instance, Operation Dynamo (the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk) was so named because it was planned in an emergency session [[LineOfSightName in a dynamo room]]. Operation Mincemeat (the planting of false documents on a real corpse in enemy territory) was literally picked off a list; in fact the name had been used by another operation some months before, and the names were recycled.
* People who do search-and-rescue operations sometimes use a "death code" when transmitting over open radio, to let other teams know they've found the body of the lost person while (nominally) keeping the media from finding out about it. For example, teams might be briefed by the incident commander to say they have found "a bottle of whiskey" instead of a body. This usually doesn't fool anybody.
[[/folder]]

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