What Does SOS Stand For?

Do you think that SOS, the distress signal used on ships all over the world, stands for “Save Our Ship”?

Actually, it doesn’t stand for anything. In the kind of telegraph code used to transmit messages to and from ships, the letter S is three dots, and the letter 0 is three dashes. So in 1908, SOS was chosen as the distress signal because it is easy to send and recognize.

The distress signal for ship radios is “Mayday.” This word probably came from a French phrase, m’aidez, which is pronounced something like mayday and means “help me.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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