Definition of SOS in US English:


nounPlural SOSs

  • 1An international code signal of extreme distress, used especially by ships at sea.

    1. 1.1 An urgent appeal for help.
    2. 1.2British A message broadcast to an untraceable person in an emergency.
      ‘here is an SOS message for Mr. Arthur Brown about his brother, who is dangerously ill’


Early 20th century: letters chosen as being easily transmitted and recognized in Morse code; by folk etymology an abbreviation of save our souls.