1. a signal used, or designed to be used, by persons in peril, for the purpose of summoning aid, indicating their position, etc., as a radio code sign, aerial flare, flag hoist, or the like. Cf. distress call (def. 1).
2. an indication, esp. a nonverbal one, that assistance, cooperation, or the like, is needed: He correctly interpreted the host's upturned eyes as a distress signal and hastily changed the subject.