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distress flag

noun
1.
any flag flown by a vessel to show that it is in distress, as an ensign flown at half-mast or upside down.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Historical Examples
  • Enid brought out a distress flag which had been stored away and hung it where it would be seen by a passing ship.

    The Deserted Yacht Mildred A. Wirt, AKA Ann Wirt

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9
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