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.

Nearby words

  1. distress flag,
  2. distress frequency,
  3. distress gun,
  4. distress merchandise,
  5. distress sale,
  6. distressed,
  7. distressed area,
  8. distressedly,
  9. distressful,
  10. distressfully

Origin of distress signal

First recorded in 1870–75

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for distress signal

  • And it would appear to those to whom he reported that he'd arrived too late at the distress-signal.

    Operation Terror|William Fitzgerald Jenkins

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