Mayday

[mey-dey]

Origin of Mayday

1925–30; < French (venez) m'aider (come) help me!
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for mayday

Mayday

noun
  1. the international radiotelephone distress signal

Word Origin for Mayday

C20: phonetic spelling of French m'aidez help me
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

Word Origin and History for mayday

"distress call," 1923, apparently an Englished spelling of French m'aider, shortening of venez m'aider "come help me!" But possibly a random coinage with coincidental resemblance:

"May Day" Is Airplane SOS
ENGLISH aviators who use radio telephone transmitting sets on their planes, instead of telegraph sets, have been puzzling over the problem of choosing a distress call for transmission by voice. The letters SOS wouldn't do, and just plain "help!" was not liked, and so "May Day" was chosen. This was thought particularly fitting since it sounds very much like the French m'aidez, which means "help me." ["The Wireless Age," June 1923]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper