Mayday – international distress signal
Mayday is an international distress signal used by ships and aircraft in emergencies. This is a voice call used in radio communications. In some countries Mayday may also be used by local organizations such as police and firefighting forces.
The mayday call is made in life-threatening situations, and is usually said three times in a row: Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!
The term mayday actually represents the pronunciation of the French m’aider (from venez m’aider meaning “come and help me”). It was created at Croydon, England around 1923 in the early days of aviation. At that time much of the air traffic was between Croydon Airport, London and Le Bourget Airport, Paris. Although the distress signal SOS [S-O-S] already existed, it was not suitable for voice communications since the sound of S is easily confused with F or X. There is no connection with the May Day holiday.
New Air Distress Signal: Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing the letter “S” by telephone [or radio], the international distress signal “S.O.S.” will give place to the words “May-day”, the phonetic equivalent of “M’aidez”, the French for “Help me.”The Times 2 February 1923
- The pilot immediately sent out a Mayday.
- The ship’s captain was screaming “Mayday!” over the radio.
- The coast guard received the mayday call at 9.34pm.
- The crew sent out a Mayday alert before abandoning ship.
- Luckily another ship picked up our mayday call.
distress (noun): state of ship or aircraft in danger and needing help
life-threatening (adjective): potentially fatal; likely to cause death
SOS (noun): an international morse code signal of extreme distress, used especially by ships at sea. First used in the 1890s.
- Mayday distress signal – Wikipedia
- Where does the word Mayday come from? – Meriam Webster
- How did Mayday come to be used as a distress call?
By Josef Essberger for EnglishClub November 2020
Josef started teaching English as a foreign language in 1991 and founded EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997.
Vanda Monaco says:
Interesting, useful and exciting. While studying it you see ships and sailors in danger and other ships coming to help people in danger.
Yes, people associate SOS with Save Our Souls. But SOS is Morse code which is short and long sounds – not voice. The SOS Morse code is: short short short long long long short short short. And the alphabet equivalent to that happens to be S-O-S. People were quick to say that meant Save Our Souls or Save Our Ship! 🙂
Important and useful information. Thank you!!
Adriano Martelli says:
Hi, Sir , Very useful and informative lesson. Tanks
Fannie Shen says:
Thank you ! This is a useful informstion.
and the meaning of SOS: “Save Our Souls”!
its fantastic,really interesting and useful data
Thank you very much !
Dessi La Caucasienne says:
It’s a very interesting and useful information.
The King Of Love From IRAN says: