Definition of pan-pan in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpanpan/


An international radio distress signal, of less urgency than a mayday signal.
Example sentences
  • Twelve hours before the military seized the ship, its captain issued a ‘pan-pan’ distress signal - second in priority to a Mayday call - over his concerns for the state of the refugees, some of whom were sick.
  • Low-level distress calls to the Coast Guard, known as pan-pans, usually require a switch from channel 16 to 22a.
  • PAN-PAN is used when the safety of the ship or person is in jeopardy. Getting a prop wound in a bunker net or having an uncontrollable vessel is a good reason to call PAN-PAN.


1920s: pan from French panne 'breakdown'.

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