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distress signal

a signal used, or designed to be used, by persons in peril, for the purpose of summoning aid, indicating their position, etc., as a radio code sign, aerial flare, flag hoist, or the like.
Compare distress call (def 1).
an indication, especially a nonverbal one, that assistance, cooperation, or the like, is needed:
He correctly interpreted the host's upturned eyes as a distress signal and hastily changed the subject.
1870-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for distress signal
  • We were rudely shaken from these rosy dreams by a distress signal from the bike.
  • The universal distress signal for choking is grabbing the throat with the hand.
  • The direct cause is a chemical distress signal produced in skin that is damaged by another hazard of modern life: eczema.
  • Computer simulations suggest the distress signal should still be capable of being detected.
  • Visual distress signal stowage, serviceability, marking stowed.
  • Try to leave a distress signal, such as a scarf, hanging from the window.
  • It is a device that can be automatically or manually activated to transmit a distress signal to a satellite.
  • Consider finding a code word to use as a distress signal to family members, children, and friends.
British Dictionary definitions for distress signal

distress signal

a signal by radio, Very light, etc from a ship or other vessel in need of immediate assistance
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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Encyclopedia Article for distress signal

a method by which a ship at sea can summon assistance. Distress signals are fixed by custom and by internationally agreed-on rules of the road at sea. The most important are: (1) visual signals, such as a flame, a red flare, an orange smoke signal, or a square flag displayed with a ball below; (2) sound signals, such as a gun or rocket fired at regular intervals, or a continuous sounding of a fog-signal apparatus; and (3) radio signals such as the Morse group SOS, the international code signal NC, or the spoken word "Mayday" (from French m'aider, "help me"), by radiotelephone. Distressed vessels may also actuate alarms of other vessels by a radio signal consisting of a series of 12 four-second dashes or by a radiotelephone signal consisting of two tones alternately transmitted for 30 to 60 seconds

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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