Share this entry
pan-pan Line breaks: pan-pan
Pronunciation: /ˈpanpan/

Definition of pan-pan in English:


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'.

Definition of pan-pan in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources