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Repeat to Confirm

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Joel: [as a naval officer] Move three quarters of an inch to the left, sailor.
Crow: [as a sailor] Moving three quarters of an inch to the left, sir. Sir, coming on three quarters of an inch to the left, sir.
Joel: [as a naval officer] Hold still at three quarters of an inch to the left.
Crow: [as a sailor] Aye, sir. Holding steady at three quarters of an inch to the left.
Joel: [as a naval officer] Very well.
Tom: Navy: It's not just a job; it's a Type-A personality development course.

Troper, describe the trope Repeat to Confirm!

Describe Repeat to Confirm, Aye, Sir! By repeating an order back to the one that gives it, one confirms that the order has been correctly received and understood, so any mistakes in communication can be fixed before the order is executed. It also impresses bystanders with the speakers' professionalism and steadiness, under stressful conditions.

This practice can also be used to signal that the order has been executed. This is usually the case for orders that are easily performed and reversible, but makes it amply clear to the one giving the order that it has been executed. In some cases the order is repeated both as confirmation of receipt and then as to its execution.

Care should be taken to perform this in a steady and confident way, otherwise it risks being interpreted as Parrot Exposition. It may appear in cases of Like a Surgeon.

As Truth in Television, this is a type of standard military procedures, officially called "Read Back For Check" when used over radio. It is especially prevalent in the Navy and Air Force, both of which operate complex vehicles. For the same reason, it's also common in civilian aviation.


Anime & Manga

  • Ubiquitous due to Aizuchi, a form of interjection for the listener to confirm that they are paying attention, which can range from single words to repeating whole sentences.


  • In Conquest (after a starship is partially infected with the Borg):
    "Eviscerator Three, this is Jaina. You are to open fire on our starboard side. Twenty four heavy turbolaser shots, on the following co-ordinates." She began punching in co-ordinates.
    A confused voice cracked through the communications system. "Please confirm, Lady Jaina. We are to fire upon your ship?"
    "Yes, you are to fire on us. Now."


  • WarGames: This happens repeatedly at the beginning of the movie when two SAC missile crewmen receive an order to launch their missiles. Watch it here.
  • In most naval films, including Tora! Tora! Tora!, Crimson Tide, U-571, and The Hunt for Red October, the captain will give an order, and the first officer or gunnery officer will repeat it. For example, almost every WWII submarine and PT boat movie features the lines, "Fire one!" "Fire one." "Fire two!" "Fire two..." In addition, Crimson Tide has the USS Alabama officers do this when they're conducting missile drills or authenticating nuclear launch orders. As should be obvious to anyone with a functioning brain, if you are potentially about to Nuke 'em for real, there is no room whatsoever for ambiguity. In point of fact, when it comes to any order pertaining to Nuclear Weapons, the XO's repetition of the order is not only to avoid ambiguity - the XO's verbal assent must be given in order for the order to be valid.
    Ramsey: Set condition 1SQ for WSRT. This is the captain. This is an exercise.
    Hunter: Set condition 1SQ for WSRT. This is the XO. This is an exercise.
  • Used for the Oh, Crap! moment in The Bedford Incident. A gung-ho destroyer commander harasses a Soviet sub with the intention of forcing it to the surface. Unfortunately he also rides his crew equally hard, so a tense officer launches an anti-sub missile when he hears the words "Fire One" twice in a row (the captain was actually saying "If he (the sub) fires one, then I'll fire one"). The by-now equally tense Soviet submariners respond with an atomic torpedo before they're destroyed.
  • Almost every movie set aboard a plane with two or more crew in the cockpit. For example, Howard Hawks' Air Force: "Flaps down." "Flaps coming down."
  • Parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the King of Swamp Castle gives commands to a guard, and the guard repeats them back wrong. The two of them spend the next two minutes going back-and-forth with the king trying to get the guard to get the orders right.
  • In Spaceballs Lone Starr and Barf do this several times. Spoofed when they infiltrate Spaceball One:
    Lone Starr: Dim the lights.
    Barf: Dimming the lights.
    Lone: Go to infrared.
    Barf: Going to infrared.
    Lone: Pray to God.
    Barf: Praying to God. [Lone Starr gives Barf a look. Barf grins.]
    • Shortly after...
    Lone Starr: Put her in hover, Barf.
    Barf: Putting her in hover.
    Lone Starr: I'm going down there.
    Barf: He's going down there. [Beat] I wouldn't.
  • In The Fifth Element, there is a bridge officer whose job is to relay orders from the captain to the helmsman, who is only a few feet away but behind an apparently pointless sheath of transparent material. The computer repeats the order too, so the exchange goes like this:
    Captain: Helm to 108.
    Computer: Helm to 108.
    Officer: [into sheath] HELM, 108!
    Helmsman: [turning wheel] Helm to 108.
  • In Galaxy Quest, and the Show Within a Show at its core, Gwen's character's role was to liaise between the captain and the computer, even though the computer can hear anything said on the ship and vice versa. When on the ship in real life, she is frustrated at the pointlessness of the job but insists on doing it anyway, since it's the only one she has.
    • It's worth noting that on the real life ship the computer tends to ignore anyone else attempting to speak to it, making Gwen's job slightly less useless.
  • Common in American Civil War and Western films such as Gettysburg, as the standard manual of arms required, first, a "preparatory" command which was repeated by the privates, then a firm command of "execution." As in "Fix—" "Fix—" "BAYONETS!"
  • In S.W.A.T. (2003), after Hondo hears Street frantically yelling "Officer down!" into the radio:
    Hondo: Flip a bitch!
    Deeks: Flipping a bitch! [pulls a U-turn]
  • Inverted(?) in Cool Hand Luke where men Working on the Chain Gang tell the "boss" (the screw in charge of the gang) what they're doing and he repeats it back to confirm that he understands, in order that the guards don't shoot the prisoners for some random sudden movement.
    Dragline: Taking it off here, Boss.
    Boss: Yah, Dragline, take it off there.
  • In Peter Pan, Smee repeats Captain Hook's orders as he calls out the coordinates for shooting down Peter and the Darlings. Smee even begins to repeat Hook's command to fire, but stops himself and plugs his ears in anticipation of the cannon firing.
  • Occurs several times in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians aboard the Martian spaceship. "Fire retrorockets five and six." "Retrorockets five and six: fire."
  • Played for Laughs in The Last Jedi with Kylo Ren ordering the First Order on the rebel planet and Hux repeating the very same thing, though the officers are right in front of them and clearly heard Kylo the first time. After the third repeat, Kylo even gives a You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me! side-glance to Hux's obvious attempt to maintain the illusion that he's in control here. Eventually Kylo loses patience when Hux openly questions his orders and Force-slams him aside. A soldier then complies with Ren's order without missing a beat.
  • You Only Live Twice. Moneypenny uses this trope to (unsuccessfully) get Bond to say Those Three Words to her.
    M: [buzzing intercom] Miss Moneypenny, give 007 the password we've agreed with Japanese S.I.S.
    Moneypenny: Yes sir. [to Bond] We tried to think of something that you wouldn't forget.
    Bond: Yes?
    Moneypenny: "I, love, you." Repeat it please, to make sure you get it.
    Bond: [beat] Don't worry, I get it.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Ace does this while hooking up the War Rig, to rev up the War Boys escorting (what should be) a routine supply run.
    Ace: Today we're headin' to Gas Town!
    War Boys: Gas Town!
    Ace: Today we're haulin' Aqua Cola!
    War Boys: Aqua Cola!
  • Battle Beyond the Stars. After delivering his ultimatum to the peaceful world of Akir, Sador orders his crew to murder a few of them just to drive his message home.
    Sador: [to Yago] Snipers forward.
    Yago: [to assembled men] Snipers... FORWARD!
    Sador: Fire at will.


Live-Action TV

  • In The Addams Family episode "Lurch's Little Helper", Gomez asks Uncle Fester for a couple of tools and a screwdriver (as in the drink). Fester hands them to him and repeats the words.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. In "The Deadly Years", Captain Kirk goes senile from Rapid Aging and keeps giving orders that he's already given before. At the end of the episode Sulu does a repeat to confirm, making him wonder if he's going senile again.
    Kirk: Take over, Mister Sulu. Steady as she goes.
    Sulu: Steady as she goes, Captain.
    Kirk: I thought I said that...?
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    • Justified in "For the Uniform". The Defiant's computer memory was wiped by a virus Michael Eddington planted, so a lot of systems aren't working right, including communications, which is a problem because due to the other malfunctions, the bridge will need to stay in contact with Engineering. O'Brien's solution is to put Nog on the bridge with a portable communicator and have him relay any necessary information to and from Engineering, which results in a number of instances of Nog audibly repeating Sisko's orders.
    • In "Valiant", the Red Squad cadets do this to excess, subtly highlighting their inexperience at running a ship.
  • Happens frequently in UFO (1970) aboard the Skydiver submarine in situations such as altering the ship's course, preparing to launch the Skydiver jet and surfacing.
  • The Teaser of the Intelligence (2014) episode "Athens" has a bit where a bureaucrat touring Cyber Command asks about security procedures, for instance what if somebody loses their ID or has it stolen. Their IDs are biometric scans of their hands, leading to the following exchange:
    Lillian: Agent Jameson. Let's do a hand count today. Make sure everyone has two.
    Jameson: Hand count. Two per. Yes, ma'am.
  • November 22, 1963: NBC's Robert MacNeil reports to Frank McGee via phone that President Kennedy died at 1 PM CST after being shot in Dallas, Texas. In the NBC News studio, McGee relays it.
  • The 1990's series Reasonable Doubts involves a cop assigned to work with a deaf female prosecutor. He knows sign language, but always repeats back what she's saying to confirm that he understood. This has the benefit of translating for the audience who don't know sign language.


  • While not required, the mobile app game Spaceteam tends to lead players to do this, as repeated confirmations not only acknowledge that your request has been actioned ("Newtonian Photomist to 3" "Photomist at 3."), but also signifies who has that control on their panel for future commands. Also, it makes you feel like you're in command of a real Spaceteam.

Western Animation

  • Occasionally parodied on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    [the CMC are attempting carpentry]
    Apple Bloom: Hammer.
    Scootaloo: Hammer. [passes Apple Bloom a hammer]
    Sweetie Belle: Hammer.
    Scootaloo: Hammer. [passes Sweetie Belle a hammer]
    Scootaloo: Hammer.
    Scootaloo: Hammer. [takes her own hammer]
  • Looney Tunes
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Sparklepants," Zadie and JunJun do this with scissors and tape while assembling a disco ball at the Creation Station.

Real Life

  • In medicine, the doctor orders an injection. A nurse or orderly uses a syringe and a special pulling needle to draw the medicine from the bottle. The syringe and bottle are then, still connected, shown to a doctor or nurse, so they can confirm the medicine and the dosage. The syringe is then attached to a needle intended for injections, and the medicine is injected.
    • Commonly depicted during operations, as "Scalpel!" "Scalpel." "Sponge!" "Sponge."
  • Very common on public safety radio channels, and often referred to as "Echoing." It serves two purposes. It confirms that the original transmission was understood correctly, and it also gives other units a second chance to hear what is going on when they may be in a position to assist or get on scene faster. Radio dispatchers will often even echo themselves in order to draw attention to important information, such as holding a channel for priority traffic or informing a first responder of scene safety information.
  • An essential part of Artillery. Artillery strikes are performed by a soldier on the field giving coordinates and payload orders to an artillery team miles away. Confirming coordinates and payload is the difference between leveling a city block of enemy troops and leveling a city block of innocent civilians (or quite possibly leveling a city block of your own troops).
  • In aviation, radio messages between air traffic control and pilots use a formalized series of phrases to minimize the possibility of misunderstandings (with good reason). Every maneuver or change that ATC requests is phrased as an instruction, and the pilot has to repeat those instructions back. This means that a request from the pilot results in the same thing being said three times; the request from the pilot, ATC's instruction to do what the pilot just requested to donote , and the pilot reading back the instruction.
    Flight 123: This is flight 123 requesting to descend to 5000.
    ATC: Flight 123, descend to 5000.
    Flight 123: Descend to 5000, flight 123.
    • This is also used when giving verbal orders in railroading, to make sure that absolutely everybody knows what is going on.
      Dispatcher: Frisco 1630 has authority for a 1:00 PM departure from station track 2, meeting Burlington 9911A at East Switch, North Shore 749 at Johnson, to Kishwaukee Grove, return to Johnson and call.
      Frisco 1630 Conductor: Frisco 1630 has authority for a 1:00 PM departure to Kishwaukee Grove, meeting Burlington 9911A at East Switch and North Shore 749 at Johnson, then return to Johnson and call.
      Dispatcher: That is correct.
      Frisco 1630 Engineer: Head end copies: 1630 has authority for 1:00 departure to the Grove, meeting 9911A at East Switch, 749 at Johnson, then return to Johnson and call.
      Frisco 1630 Conductor: That is correct.
  • Some languages lack an equivalent of "yes" or "no", meaning that repeating part of a question or order is the only way to unambiguously answer it (e.g. The answer to the Latin question "troposne legis?" or the command "lege tropos!"trans  would be "tropos lego" or "tropos non lego"trans ). One of these languages is Irish, which has impacted Irish English; this is why, if (for instance), you ask an Irish person (for instance) "Have you read the paper this morning?" they will like as not reply "I have" or "I haven't" rather than "yes" or "no."
  • Within many theater groups, when a stage manager calls the time until the show starts or the length of a break, it is obligatory for all cast members to state "Thank you" and the time verbatim to ensure everyone has the correct number.
    "Places in five minutes."
    "Thank you five."
  • In a physiological variant, "killer" T lymphocytes of the human immune system require a two-step activation process: 1) another defense cell showing the lymphocyte a sample of the antigen which the killer T cell needs to attack, causing an internal "Target confirmed" signal that prepares it to divide; and 2) a "helper" T cell responding to the same antigen's presence, and issuing a chemical "Target confirmed" signal that stimulates the killer cell's mitosis.
  • Many grade school teachers ask students answering questions (especially word problems in math) to restate the question.
  • Also part of the standard spelling bee protocol: the judge gives a word, the speller repeats the word for confirmation, spells the word, and then repeats the word again to indicate completion of the response.
  • Hearing-impaired people often pick up this practice because the tendency of information to get lost as it travels through damaged parts of the ear means they can't be one hundred percent sure of what they heard otherwise.

Trope described, Sir!