S.O.S {What does it stand for?}

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This question has not been asked yet here but it has on other sites and I want to clarify what S.O.S actually means..and the answer is: nothing! SOS is the International Distress Call and does NOT mean "save our ship", "save our souls" or anything else. It replaced the distress call CQD because it was much easier sent and received in Morse Code (... --- ...) where CQD (-.-. --.- -..) was often misunderstood. The Titanic was one of the first ships to use the new signal after they had used CQD. I don't mean to open a can of worms here but just had to get that off my chest!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 02, 1998


Response to S.O.S

Just a little background to follow up Peter's post.

The original distress call, CQD, was developed by the Marconi company. "CQ" meant (and still means today) "be quiet and pay attention;" the "D" indicated distress. This call was first used by a ship in distress in 1903. In 1906, an international convention proposed "SOS" as a new standard distress call, again as Peter noted, for its simplicity and recognizability; three dots, three dashes, three dots. In 1908, it was formally adopted as the regulation distress call, but it was not widely used by Marconi operators until after Harold Bride suggested it to Jack Phillips in the Titanic's wireless shack.

It is worthwhile to point out here that Phillips and Bride were not White Star employees. They were employed by the British Marconi Company, and their primary function was to send and receive messages for passengers, for a nominal fee, and to relay messages for other Marconi operators.

The stories of the undelivered ice warnings are part of the Titanic legend, but this fact helps to explain, at least in part, **why** so many ice warnings were set aside in the wireless room. Phillips and Bride weren't sailors or navigators, so they couldn't fully appreciate the significance of the latitude and longitude coordinates of the ice sightings. And again, their primary function was to service the passengers.

In the end, what Phillips and Bride didn't realize was that **they** were on the Titanic, too, and wherever it went, so did they.



-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), February 03, 1998.

Response to S.O.S

Good point Kip. I believe the surviving operator was Harold Bride and he was interviewed by Mr. Marconi himself after the Carpathia docked in New York. One note: As Kip mentioned "cq" means "be quiet and listen". It is widely used today by Ham Radio operators as a method of saying "I am available to talk".

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), February 03, 1998.

Response to S.O.S

CQ, CQ, CQ, = anyone out there?

-- (spam@psnw.com), February 04, 1998.

S. O. S. stands for shit on a shingle which stands for creamed chipped beef on toast-a culinary delight beloved by institutional cooks everywhere, from San Quentin to Fort Benning. Over and out. CQD old man, we're down by the head and sinking fast.

-- Harold Bride (foo@bar.com), March 19, 1998.

Yep, being an ex Navy man from a Navy family, I definitely knew that! Matter of fact, my late mother used to make that weekly and guess what , I loved it! However, with all that salt and fat, it's a recipe for a heart attack. Come to think of it though, I don't think it was ever offered on board the USS Sandoval, or at least while I was on her!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), March 20, 1998.

S.O.S. stands fo Save our souls!

-- Steve Sullivan (Swatofc@aol.com), August 24, 2002.

I am with Peter he's got the answer so stop looking r\for something else that's it

-- Idalia Ortiz (idalia15@hotmail.com), January 21, 2003.

I have wondered for sometime what the letters SOS stood for. As I was a watching a TV program today it sparked my wonder agagin. Although I found the answer surprising it also makes perfect sense. Thank you Mr. Peter Nivling. ...---...

-- Stephen C Snyder (irsteven@pacbell.net), April 25, 2003.

I guess I can accept that, but I think it must mean something. "Save or souls" works for me. Kinda goes right along with "be quiet and listen to our distress".

-- Annie Deatower (bittenboots@yahoo.com), May 12, 2003.

Yikes, for the longest time I thought it meant,

Shit, Oh! SHIT!...

Thanks for the info guys :)

-- Manuel Negron (mnvega@yahoo.com), July 14, 2003.

i think s.o.s means nothing.it is just a cry for help or a distress for help.

-- Kevin Macrito (bubblegumkid526@aol.com), September 12, 2003.

Thanks for this "useless" info, it was the first site I came to that told me all I wanted to know about SOS- was curious what it meant, and cracked up readin' all the follow up posts- 'specially, being enlightened by the shit on shingle post ..

-- Tess (brwneyedgrl02_08@yahoo.com), October 06, 2003.

i think that it is true that it does mot mean any thing.

-- steven cory klimek (manof1309@yahoo.com), December 04, 2003.

Just an observation, but S O S reads the same upside down, which would be helpful for search planes.

-- Rob Kinneen (robkinneen@bigpond.com), December 12, 2003.


-- Rebecca (baby_becca@girlofyourdreams.com), December 13, 2003.

I really thiink SOS means Save Our Shit!!!

-- Bruno Coelho (meninomalukin@aol.com), January 07, 2004.

I alwayz thought it meant soldiers over seas. Thanx 4 tellin me what it really meanz.

-- soniya merchant (hotsoniya@aol.com), January 17, 2004.

I was told S.O.S means nothing...it is just a distress signale that people used to be saved but has no actual words for it. (--- -- --- ) thats all there is to it.

-- April Walsh (blondie_blue@hotmail.com), January 17, 2004.

please tell me the history of sos.

-- Amirhossein Niazy (ahnm1@yahoo.com), January 24, 2004.



I finally got the answer! Thx u guys!

-- Alejandro Coronel (achx@gmx.net), February 18, 2004.

KWANSHA SWANDA JACKSON's was the best answer IMHO

-- George (cryo1985@tampabay.rr.com), April 21, 2004.


-- Joe Marquez (medinadv2@juno.com), May 09, 2004.

But Urizen said Can I leave this world of Cumbrous wheels Circle oer Circle nor high attain a void. -Willam Blake

-- Steve (stevensyg@yahoo.com), May 23, 2004.

Thank you Kip and Peter for the info it really helped on my school report about the Titanic I reaqd some plac that the person who was sending out CQD was sending it out but joking at the same time

-- Ashley (sk8er24@sbcglobal.net), May 25, 2004.

Thank you Peter for enlighting others about S.O.S. And I have only one thing to say to the rest of the spoiled dumb asses; 'please don't ruin a helpful commentary information post site by your unneccessary and not funny dumb jokes'.

-- Emir Onur Cilek (emir@onurcilek.com), August 27, 2004.

Here are some answers I would like to contribute-Same 'ol Situation, Same Old Song, Same Old Story,Same Old Stuff (polite form),Save Often Stupid,Science of Speed, Scoot Over Some, Secretary Of State, Sex on Stage, Shoot on Sight, Sick of School, Sink or Swim, Some One Special, Software Operating System, and now I am tired of typing. I am lead to believe it is just an ordinary international signal for help. Kind of like the international peace sign, if you know what I mean. The middle finger.

-- Mark-you don't need my whole name (shotadeer2000@yahoo.com), October 06, 2004.

SOS stands for absolutely nothing, certainly nothing in English. It was devised by the Germans in 1906, they originally suggested SOE but decided the single dot that stands for E would be too easy to lose in transmission.

-- Christie Johnson (cjohnso6@gmu.edu), December 06, 2004.

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