What Does SOS Mean?

Discover the true meaning of SOS, the universal distress signal used in emergency situations to call for help. Learn about its origins, examples, and significance.


SOS is a commonly used distress signal that signifies an urgent need for help. But what does SOS actually mean? Let’s delve deeper into the origins and meaning of this iconic distress call.

Origin of SOS

SOS was adopted as the international distress signal in 1905 by the German government. It is not an acronym and does not stand for ‘Save Our Souls’ or ‘Save Our Ship’ as popularly believed. Instead, SOS was chosen because of its simplicity and ease of recognition in Morse code.

Meaning of SOS

SOS simply signifies a call for help and is used in emergency situations to signal that immediate assistance is required. It is recognized internationally in maritime and aviation contexts as a universal distress signal.

Examples of SOS Usage

  • A ship sending out an SOS signal after hitting an iceberg
  • An airplane transmitting an SOS call before crash-landing
  • A hiker using a whistle to signal SOS when lost in the wilderness

Case Studies

In 1912, the Titanic famously sent out distress signals using SOS when it hit an iceberg and started sinking. The call for help prompted nearby vessels to come to the aid of the stricken ship, highlighting the importance of the SOS signal in emergency situations.

Statistics on SOS Calls

According to the International Telecommunication Union, thousands of SOS calls are made every year by ships, aircraft, and individuals in distress. The rapid response to these calls has saved countless lives and prevented disasters from escalating.


In conclusion, SOS is more than just a distress signal – it is a lifeline in times of crisis. Understanding the meaning and significance of SOS can help save lives and ensure swift responses in emergency situations. So, the next time you hear or see an SOS signal, remember that someone is in need of immediate help.

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