What Does "SOS" Mean in a Text Message?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:37:40 PM ET
4368982368 C5a4bb4bdb B
David365/Flickr

The acronym "SOS" is used when sending messages via text or internet messaging systems. According to PC.net, there are several meanings behind this acronym. The primary meaning is "Same old stuff." This is a common reply to questions such as "What's happening?" or "Anything new these days?" "Someone special" is another meaning for the acronym "SOS." This response would be used when asked, "Anyone I know?" or "Who are you talking about?"  

If you want to warn someone you are texting with that other people can read what is being sent, you may send the "SOS" text as a warning. In this situation, the acronym means "Someone over shoulder."

Original Meaning of 'SOS'

Originally used as an acronym for Morse code from 1910, "SOS" was intended to be a distress signal. Consisting of three long dashes, three short dashes and then another three long dashes, this signal was often used over radio airwaves. The acronym "SOS" was officially recognized over other signals that were opted for included "C.Q.D." meaning "come quickly, distress" or "CQ," meaning "come quickly."  The verbal equivalent of the acronym "SOS" is mayday.

Many believe that the original "SOS" distress signal stood for "Save Our Ship" or "Save Our Souls." The truth is that it was never meant to be used as an acronym. The Morse Code pattern was easier for operators of airwave radios to send these signals when working under stressful situations. This internationally recognized code is still used today.

SMS Language Explained

SMS language or short message service is a type of communication used for sending text messages or other communication via the internet. This is an adaption to instant messaging used when the internet and cell phones were first introduced. Short message service (SMS) language acronyms are used together to represent common words or phrases. The use of the SMS language saves time and sometimes serves as coding for secretive exchanges of conversation.

Hindering Language Skills

Educators have noticed that since SMS language has become popular, school-age children have begun having difficulty in the basic concepts of reading and writing skills. The lack of ability to grasp proper language skills is having an effect in other areas for students, such as standardized test-taking and writing simple essays for their course work. Even college level students are showing weaknesses in this area. While SMS language, more commonly known as "textese," follows urban meanings and understanding, it is interfering with the intended use of common language arts. 

As the use of the messaging systems through cell phones and the internet increase in popularity, the SMS language is expanding as well. This is causing serious communication gaps between the different generations of people. 

Other Common SMS Acronyms

The SMS language is filled with acronyms used for communication. Among some of the more common SMS acronyms include the following:

  • LOL meaning "Laugh out loud"
  • EOM meaning "End of message"
  • EOD meaning "End of discussion"
  • HF meaning "Have fun"
  • HTH meaning "Hope this helps"
  • TTYL meaning "Talk to you later"
  • TYT meaning "Take your time"
  • W00t meaning "Whoomp, there it is" or "Hooray"
  • B4 meaning "Before"
  • CUL8r meaning "See you later"
  • ROFL means "Rolling on the floor laughing"