In the Pipe Five by Five - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Is your manager breathing down your neck about a deadline? If you want to put their mind at ease and tell them you are on track to meet your goal, you could use the idiomatic expression, "In the pipe five by five."

This post unpacks everything you need to know about the meaning, origin, and use of this phrase in conversation.

In the Pipe Five by Five Meaning

If you're using "in the pipe five by five" in a conversation, it typically occurs as a response to a question. The person will be asking you if you are on track to meet your goal, target, or destination.

The phrase acts as a confirmation of the other person's request, giving them confidence in your abilities. By saying "in the pipe five by five," you're referring to everything being on track to meet your target, and there is no chance of anything standing in your way of completing the goal.

Example Usage

Tom: "Hey Jim, how's it going with the project?"

Luke: "Great, Tom, we're in the pipe five by five.


Chris: "How's our travel time looking, Mike?"

Mike: "We're in the pipe five by five; I'm sure we're going to arrive on time."

In the Pipe Five by Five Origin

The phrase, "in the pipe five by five," originates in the modern navy. Warships in battle would use the term to describe a clear path from the ship to its target. Of course, there was no physical pipe between the ship and its target. However, the "pipe" would refer to an invisible straight path to the target.

The use of "pipe" in the phrase comes from the idiom "in the pipeline," referring to progress or advancement. The expression is popular in the navy, and it spread to other branches of the US armed forces. The phrase now has a use in the Navy, Army, and Airforce, with it being popular with special operators like SEAL teams and Green Berets.

The use of the Five in the saying has two meanings. The first five refers to the audio quality of the communication, and the second five refers to the volume. By saying five by 5, you're letting the person know that you heard them, "loud and clear."

The phrase also has a use in maritime and airborne operations, with pilots using it to describe their flightpath and trajectory. The most famous use of the term occurs in the 1979 Ridley Scott movie "Alien."

Phrases Similar to In the Pipe Five by Five

  • I'm on track to make it.
  • Everything is going to plan.
  • We're on target.

Phrases Opposite to In the Pipe Five by Five

  • I'm lost.
  • We're not going to make it.
  • I'll miss the deadline.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • In the pipe five by five.

Ways People May Say In the Pipe Five by Five Incorrectly

Some people may incorrectly use "in the pipe five by five" to describe other actions or plans. However, the phrase is a confirmation of someone else's question, not something that you would say directly to someone.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase In the Pipe Five by Five

You can use the expression "in the pipe five by five" when you want to let someone know that you're on track to reaching your goal or target. While the phrase has a military origin, anyone can use it. It suits business and social situations in life. You could say the line to friends or your boss to let them know you are running on schedule and to plan.

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