- a prearranged communication code sign indicating that the sender is in a situation of peril, distress, or the like, as SOS, Mayday, etc.Compare distress signal(def 1).
- a communication prompted by or indicating distress: The hospital sent out distress calls for all available stocks of the antitoxin.
Origin of distress call
First recorded in 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018