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  1. a gesture used to signal, summon, or direct someone.
  2. Chiefly Scot. a bow or curtsy of greeting.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. Archaic. beckon.
  1. at someone's beck and call, ready to do someone's bidding; subject to someone's slightest wish: He has three servants at his beck and call.

Origin of beck1

1325–75; Middle English becken, short variant of becnen to beckon


noun North England.
  1. a brook, especially a swiftly running stream with steep banks.

Origin of beck2

1250–1300; Middle English becc < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse bekkr; akin to Old English bece, Dutch beek, German Bach brook, MIr bual flowing water < Indo-European *bhog-lā


verb (used with object) Metalworking.
  1. to form (a billet or the like) into a tire or hoop by rolling or hammering on a mandrel or anvil.

Origin of beck3

v. use of beck (noun), shortening of beck-iron, variant of bick-iron


  1. Dave,1894–1993, U.S. labor leader: president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters 1952–57.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for beck

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Mom Beck had stepped into the pantry for more eggs for the cake she was making.

    The Little Colonel

    Annie Fellows Johnston

  • Is there a minute of my life that she is not sending for me—expecting me to be at her beck and call?

    Pretty Madcap Dorothy

    Laura Jean Libbey

  • I have been at the beck and call of one of the greatest roués and villains in France.

    The Strollers

    Frederic S. Isham

  • She must also remain as young looking as ever and always be at his beck and call.

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • Mother won't give it him, so I have to be at his beck and call.

    A Bride of the Plains

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy

British Dictionary definitions for beck


  1. a nod, wave, or other gesture or signal
  2. at someone's beck and call ready to obey someone's orders instantly; subject to someone's slightest whim

Word Origin

C14: short for becnen to beckon


  1. (in N England) a stream, esp a swiftly flowing one

Word Origin

Old English becc, from Old Norse bekkr; related to Old English bece, Old Saxon beki, Old High German bah brook, Sanskrit bhanga wave
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for beck


late 14c., "mute signal," from noun use of bekken (v.), variant of becnan "to beckon" (see beckon). Transferred sense of "slightest indication of will" is from late 15c.


c.1300, shortening of beckon. (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with beck


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.