Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The letters that are represented by the Morse code signal · · · – – – · · ·, used as an international distress signal, especially by ships and aircraft.
  • noun A call or signal for help.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • The letters signified by the signal ( … --- … ) prescribed by the International Radiotelegraphic Convention of 1912 for use by ships in distress.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The conventional Morse code call made by a ship in distress.
  • initialism Secretary of State
  • initialism special order sale
  • noun games a children's game involving placing S's and O's on a grid, and collecting points by creating an "SOS" sequence, played with alternating turns by opponents.
  • noun emergency, mayday, distress

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an internationally recognized distress signal in radio code

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Chosen because its morse code sequence (· · · — — — · · ·) was easy to remember. Many mnemonics and backronyms were later formed from the sequence.

Examples

  • Under the title SOS - Спаси Образованието Сега (SOS - Save Our Education Now), through websites and social media as well as real-world action, Bulgarian youth have been running a campaign for the re-organisation of the country's higher education.

    SofiaEcho RSS feed

  • "It's great to have someone from Harvard step in and say what you're doing is effective," he said, referring to Dr. Gil Noam's visit last Spring, after which he called SOS a leader in after-school programs.

    Vail Daily - Top Stories

  • Bob is trying to find the source of an SOS from a hospital that's supposedly secure every way to Sunday.

    REVIEW: Wireless by Charles Stross

  • The appointment of Hillary as SOS is to stop her ambition to run for 2012 as President, Obama KNEW Hillary can beat her.

    Hillary Clinton 'elbowed' aside?

  • As with its other chapters, the chapter in SOS on knowledge processes insults the complexity and subtlety of the topic by its short, breezy treatment.

    Austrian Economics in Business, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • I'm not sure if SOS is brilliant, but it's hard not to look at and be drawn in which makes it better than most performance so if you can fit it in this Easter weekend, I highly recommend it.

    The Bigger (the Art), the Better

  • John Rendeiro, vice president for global security and intelligence, says International SOS is reminding clients to tell their employees not to broadcast their nationalities when traveling abroad.

    Germany Downplays Terror Threat

  • SOS is also nearly three sheets to the wind in its unbridled speed and intensity.

    The Bigger (the Art), the Better

  • Here is an SOS from the RecArts mystery group, by "Diana":

    August 2008

  • Here is an SOS from the RecArts mystery group, by "Diana":

    SOS from reader of W J Burley

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  • Secret Owl Society.

    April 29, 2013