• synonyms


  1. the international radiotelephone distress signal, used by ships and aircraft.
Show More

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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for mayday

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for mayday


  1. the international radiotelephone distress signal
Show More

Word Origin

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]
Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper