It originally didn't mean anything. It was an easy way in morse code to call for help, an easy distress signal with a couple short taps and a couple long taps, or something like that. Then it got labeled as meaning "Save Our Souls"
It has no true meaning, but in the distress signal world three of anything is a sign that you need rescue. So with SOS being three letters and the morse code for "S" being "..." and "O" being"---" they fit well because each letter is comprised of either three dots or three dashes. Its a perfect message
10 months ago
Last edited at 11:20AM on 5/7/2013
Those people who said that SOS has no meaning are correct.
In Morse code THREE factors are used. Dots and dashes, of course, but equally important is the SPACE between letters. S is three dots (...) O is three dashes (---) so the distress signal ...---... looks like SOS and is called that by everybody, telegraphists as well as the general public. But if was really SOS it would have spaces between the three letters (... --- ...).
There were a number of signals like this and the one most often used was called AR (.-.-.) which was used to end a message. It was also a unique signal without a space between the A and the R.
Back in the days when we were using Morse to transmit the first emails we also had an equivalent to LOL. It was three dashes and a dot (---.) which was recognised internationally as a laugh signal.
And, yes, I was a Morse telegraphist from 1954 to 1959 at which time Australia switched to teleprinters.