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the letters represented by the radio telegraphic signal (· · · – – – · · ·) used, especially by ships in distress, as an internationally recognized call for help.
any call for help:
We sent out an SOS for more typists.
verb (used without object)
to send an SOS.
Origin of SOS
1905-10, from the Morse code alphabet, in which three dots (or short clicks) represents the letter S and three dashes (or long clicks) represents the letter O Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for sos's


an internationally recognized distress signal in which the letters SOS are repeatedly spelt out, as by radio-telegraphy: used esp by ships and aircraft
a message broadcast in an emergency for people otherwise unobtainable
(informal) a call for help
Word Origin
C20: letters chosen as the simplest to transmit and receive in Morse code; by folk etymology taken to be an abbreviation for save our souls
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sos's


1910, from International Morse code letters, chosen arbitrarily as being easy to transmit and difficult to mistake. Not an initialism for "save our ship" or anything else. Won out over alternative suggestion C.Q.D., which is said to mean "come quickly, distress," or "CQ," general call for alerting other ships that a message follows, and "D" for danger. SOS is the telegraphic distress signal only; the oral equivalent is mayday.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sos's

sorry about that


I am sorry; please forgive me • Most often an ironic understatement, as when one has been responsible for making a big mistake

[1960s+; popularized in the 1960s TV program Get Smart]

sort of


Somewhat: sorta mixed-up (1839+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for sos's


  1. a signal of distress in Morse code
  2. chipped beef on toast (from "shit on a shingle")
  3. same old shit
  4. Somalia-shilling
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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