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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.
Origin of distress signal
First recorded in 1870-75 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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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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