• ... it is a call for help ... "Save Our Souls" became the common words associated with the signal in Morse code, but there is no official set of words that SOS actually stands for ...
  • In popular usage, SOS became associated with phrases such as "Save Our Souls," "Save Our Shelby," "Shoot Our Ship", "Sinking Our Ship", "Survivors On Shore","Save our skulls", "Save Our Ship", "Sink Our Ships", "Survivors On Ship", "Save Our Sailors", "Stop Other Signals", "Sink Or Swim", "Send Out Sailors", "Save Our Skins", and "Send Out Someone". However, these phrases were a later development, most likely used to help remember the correct letters—something known as a backronym. Source:
  • They don't stand for anything, they are just very easily remembered letters in Morse Code ... --- ...
  • I think it means HELP but I don't know what it stands for
  • I just found out the answer to this question today, I always thought it stood for "Save our Souls," but it was the quickest and easiest message to send via morse code, the dot dash dot was quick, ( as well, it stands for the letters SOS), so that show it came about ! cheers
  • It replaced the original distress call in morse code which was "CQD". It was replaced because of it's ease of use and unmistakable code. It doesn't stand for anything, per se, meaning the SOS isn't an acronym for some particular set of words. For the whole history, see:
  • ( follow the link
  • 1) "SOS is the commonly used description for the International Morse code distress signal (· · · — — — · · ·). This distress signal was first adopted by the German government in radio regulations effective April 1, 1905, and became the worldwide standard when it was included in the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, which was signed on November 3, 1906, becoming effective on July 1, 1908. SOS remained the maritime distress signal until 1999, when it was replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System From the beginning, the SOS distress signal has actually consisted of a continuous sequence of three-dits/three-dahs/three-dits, all run together without letter spacing. In International Morse Code, three dits form the letter S, and three dahs make the letter O, so "SOS" became an easy way to remember the correct order of the dits and dashes." "The use of the SOS signal was first introduced in Germany as part of a set of national radio regulations, effective April 1, 1905. These regulations introduced three new Morse code sequences, including the SOS distress signal: - Ruhezeichen ("Cease-sending signal"), consisting of six dahs ( — — — — — — ), sent by shore stations to tell other local stations to stop transmitting. - Suchzeichen ("Quest signal"), composed of three-dits/three dahs/one-dit, all run together (· · · — — — · ), used by ships to get the attention of shore stations. - Notzeichen ("Distress signal"), consisting of three-dits/three-dahs/three-dits (· · · — — — · · · ), also in a continuous sequence, "to be repeated by a ship in distress until all other stations have stopped working". " Source and further information: 2) "At the second Berlin Radiotelegraphic Conference of 1906, the subject of a distress signal was again addressed. The distress signal chosen was "SOS." (The American distress signal "NC" for "Call for help without delay" was not adopted, although it remains as the international flag symbol for distress to this day.) Popular accounts portray the adoption of "SOS" as being derived from "SOE," which the Germans had used as a general inquiry call. These accounts suggest there was objection because the final letter of "SOE" was a single dot, hard to copy in adverse conditions. The letter "S" was substituted accounts say, for three dots, three dashes and three dots could not be misinterpreted. Popular accounts of the origin of "SOS" fail to mention that the Germans had used "SOS" for a distress signal. They adopted the signal "SOS" for distress as well as "SOE" for inquiry on April 1, 1905, a year before the Berlin conference. The Electrician, May 5, 1905 published "German Regulations for the Control of Spark Telegraphy" which stated: "...- - -..., "Distress" signal (Notzeichen). This is to be repeated by a ship in distress until all other stations have stopped working." Unfortunately, the 1906 Conference proceedings do not give an account of the discussions nor the origin of SOS. The proceedings merely specify what the signal will be. In the Service Regulations Affixed to the International Wireless Telegraph Convention, paragraph 6a, "Signals of Transmission" states:: "Ships in distress shall use the following signal: ...- - -..., repeated at brief intervals." The Marconi Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony , 1918 states, "This signal [SOS] was adopted simply on account of its easy radiation and its unmistakable character. There is no special signification in the letter themselves, and it is entirely incorrect to put full stops between them [the letters]." All the popular interpretations of "SOS," "Save or Ship," "Save Our Souls," or "Send Out Succour" are simply not valid. Stations hearing this distress call were to immediately cease handling traffic until the emergency was over and were likewise bound to answer the distress signal." Source and further information:
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