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[tel-uh-fohn] /ˈtɛl əˌfoʊn/
an apparatus, system, or process for transmission of sound or speech to a distant point, especially by an electric device.
verb (used with object), telephoned, telephoning.
to speak to or summon (a person) by telephone.
to send (a message) by telephone.
verb (used without object), telephoned, telephoning.
to send a message by telephone.
Also, phone.
Origin of telephone
First recorded in 1825-35; tele-1 + -phone
Related forms
telephoner, noun
pretelephone, adjective
retelephone, verb, retelephoned, retelephoning. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for telephoning
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dear fussy little woman said that John had been telephoning inquiries.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • Cornwall, after telephoning his mother that he would not be home, went with him.

  • telephoning to the hotel where the Mowbrays had been stopping, he learned that they had gone.

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • But upstairs, Gertrude was telephoning for the district attorney.

    A Woman for Mayor Helen M. Winslow
  • They 've been telephoning Denver and holding conferences and all that sort of thing.

    The Cross-Cut

    Courtney Ryley Cooper
  • Suddenly, he remembered the girl's telephoning to her dressmaker.

    The Blonde Lady

    Maurice Leblanc
  • For the moment he must seem concerned only with the hasty business of telephoning.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb
  • She acquiesced when he prevented her mother from telephoning to the ranch.

    The Forester's Daughter Hamlin Garland
British Dictionary definitions for telephoning


  1. Also called telephone set. an electrical device for transmitting speech, consisting of a microphone and receiver mounted on a handset
  2. (as modifier): a telephone receiver
  1. a worldwide system of communications using telephones. The microphone in one telephone converts sound waves into electrical signals that are transmitted along a telephone wire or by radio to one or more distant sets, the receivers of which reconvert the incoming signal into the original sound
  2. (as modifier): a telephone exchange, a telephone call
to call or talk to (a person) by telephone
to transmit (a recorded message, radio or television programme, or other information) by telephone, using special transmitting and receiving equipment
Often shortened to phone
Derived Forms
telephoner, noun
telephonic (ˌtɛlɪˈfɒnɪk) adjective
telephonically, adverb
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
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Word Origin and History for telephoning



1878, from telephone (n.). Related: Telephoned; telephoning.



1835, "apparatus for signaling by musical notes" (devised by Sudré in 1828), from French téléphone (c.1830), from télé- "far" (see tele-) + phone "sound" (see fame (n.)). Also used of other apparatus early 19c., including "instrument similar to a foghorn for signaling from ship to ship" (1844). The electrical communication tool was first described in modern form by P.Reis (1861); developed by Bell, and so called by him from 1876.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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