It’s May 1st. Happy May Day!
Where did the nautical term, “Mayday” originate?
Mayday is an emergency distress signal used in radio communications. The term derived from the French word, “m’aider” (pronounced “mayDAY”). As a distress call, it is always repeated 3 times, and it is universally recognized. When only used once (as in, “Mayday,” versus “Mayday Mayday Mayday”), it is used to discuss an actual distress call that is under investigation.
M’aider in French means “help me,” but in France, it is not considered a distress call. It is a commonplace “help me,” as in, “can you help me do this?”