In "Breaking bad" the recorded answering machine says:

Yo, yo, yo, 1, 4, 8, 3 to the 3 to the 6 to the 9 representing the ABQ. What up, beyotch? Leave it at the tone.

What does "to the" mean in the phrase in bold?

  • ABQ= 2, 2, 7 on the dial face.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 22:48
  • @Lambie The series takes place is Albuquerque. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 23:13
  • @Acccumulation representing the ABQ** cannot refer to Albuquerque. It would be good to know the episode.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 14:56
  • @Lambie Why not? Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 18:23
  • @Acccumulation Because it says: THE ABQ. We don't say the Albuquerque to refer to the name of that city,. That's why.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 19:11

3 Answers 3


As others have said, it's a phone number, in this case 148-3369. But what I suspect you're really asking about is more of a formulation of

X to the Y to the Z to the A

In this case, the message on the answering machine is emulating a common way of speaking in rap music (the "yo yo yo" is another hint). Consider Rapper's Delight, widely considered the first mainstream hip hop song (from 1979):

I said a hip hop

Hippie to the hippie

Or Jay-Z's So Ghetto for a more modern usage:


He's just spelling "M-A-R-C-Y." The "to the" as well as the "baby" are just filler words. (blank) to the (blank) is kind of a sing-song, non-sense way of simply connecting two words, often two nouns. It's a stylistic choice rather than anything that adds meaning (aside from trying to make the speaker sound cool, that is). "3 to the 3 to the 6 to the 9" means nothing more than "3369."

  • There is no such number in the US numbering system for telephones. Numbers go: 1-xxx-xxxx, or without the 1. ABQ on the US dial face stands for 227.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 22:52
  • @Michael W. Thank you for breaking it down! This was exactly what I was asking about.
    – Bahram
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 4:43
  • Just a note that the usual way of saying the mathematical concept "X raised to the power of Y" is also "X to the Y", ie "2 to the 3 is 8". Most definitely not what's meant here though.
    – jonathanjo
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 12:11
  • @Lambie It doesn't sound like you are familiar with Jesse Pinkman.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 16:19
  • @choster I saw every damn episode, are you kidding?? "Everybody" I know did. That said, I cannot explain the wording to my own satisfaction. Can you explain the whole thing? Cogently? Can you break bad here?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 17:11

It's the person's phone number, without the first 3 digits : 148-3369.

Some people still say phone numbers like this, in areas with lots of small towns, where you know that everyone has the first three digits.

  • I have never heard that in the US. Ever. Also, ABQ=227
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 22:50
  • @Lambie You've never heard someone omit the area code? Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 23:14
  • @Acccumulation Of course, I have. But no numbers are structured as the responders claim. And personally, I cannot say exactly what it is,either.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 14:54
  • @Lambie You're pot on for the ABQ (for Albuquerque, where the series is set, not 227 area code for Maryland :) I've edited my comment to make it clearer.
    – Splambo
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 14:31
  • @SamuelMartin The area code for Albuquerque is 505. Andin the States, numbers begin with 1-[area code]-[xxx-xxxx]. Now, can you decipher the message? Because I have not been able to. :) But usually people do not use the 1. That said, on the dial face of the damn phones, ABQ stands for 227 but is not an area code. See for yourself: google.com/…
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 17:20

i think its a phone number?? i know phone numbers used to have 3 numbers-4 numbers, instead of today's phone numbers that are 3 numbers-3 numbers-4 numbers.

  • On the one hand, that part of a telephone number - called the "central office code" - can't begin with a 1. On the other hand, TV shows often intentionally use fake or impossible phone numbers.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 21:22

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