We received a lot of answers to our #mondayquiz “What is the origin of the term mayday”. It’s time to answer!
Mayday is the word used around the world to make a distress call via radio communications. Mayday signals a life-threatening emergency, usually on a ship or a plane, although it may be used in a variety of other situations.
Procedure calls for the mayday distress signal to be said three times in a row — Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! — so that it won’t be mistaken for another word or phrase that sounds similar under noisy conditions.
A typical distress call will start with mayday repeated three times, followed by all the relevant information that potential rescuers would need, including type and identity of craft involved, nature of the emergency, location or last known location, current weather, what type of help is needed and number of people in danger.
Mayday got its start as an international distress call in 1923. It was made official in 1948. It was the idea of Frederick Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He came up with the idea for “mayday” because it sounded like the French word m’aider, which means “help me.”