[ kawl-out ]
/ ˈkɔlˌaʊt /


an act or instance of calling out.
an order to report for emergency or special work, especially at an unusual time or place.
a letter, number, or other device for identifying or calling attention to a particular part of an illustration.
a challenge to a duel.

Nearby words

  1. call-and-response,
  2. call-board,
  3. call-exner body,
  4. call-in,
  5. call-in pay,
  6. call-up,
  7. calla,
  8. callable,
  9. callaghan,
  10. callaghan, morley

Origin of call-out

First recorded in 1885–90; noun use of verb phrase call out

Origin of call

1200–50; late Middle English callen, probably < Old Norse kalla to call out, conflated with Old English (West Saxon) ceallian to shout; cognate with Middle Dutch kallen to talk, Old High German kallôn to shout, akin to Old English -calla herald, Irish gall swan, OCS glasŭ voice

Related formsun·called, adjectivewell-called, adjective

Can be confusedcall caul cull

Synonym study

2, 3, 12. Call, invite, summon imply requesting the presence or attendance of someone at a particular place. Call is the general word: to call a meeting. To invite is to ask someone courteously to come as a guest, a participant, etc., leaving the person free to refuse: to invite guests to a concert; to invite them to contribute to a fund. Summon implies sending for someone, using authority or formality in making the request and (theoretically) not leaving the person free to refuse: to summon a witness, members of a committee, etc. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for call out

call out

verb (adverb)

to utter aloud, esp loudly
(tr) to summon
(tr) to order (workers) to strike
(tr) to summon (an employee) to work at a time outside his normal working hours, usually in an emergency
(tr) to challenge to a duel


/ (kɔːl) /



Word Origin for call

Old English ceallian; related to Old Norse kalla, Old High German kallōn, Old Slavonic glasǔ voice

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 call out
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with call out

call out


Summon into action or service, as in The governor called out the militia. [Mid-1400s]


Challenge to a fight, as in To avenge the insult, Arthur called him out. This term originated with dueling and is dying out. [Early 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with call

  • call a halt
  • call a spade a spade
  • call back
  • call down
  • call for
  • call in
  • call in question
  • call in sick
  • call it a day
  • call it quits
  • call names
  • call of duty
  • call off
  • call of nature
  • call on
  • call one's own
  • call on the carpet
  • call out
  • call someone's bluff
  • call the shots
  • call the tune
  • call to account
  • call to mind
  • call to order
  • call up
  • call upon

also see:

  • above and beyond (the call of duty)
  • at someone's beck and call
  • close call
  • dressing (calling) down
  • no call for
  • on call
  • pay a call
  • pot calling the kettle black
  • too close to call
  • uncalled for
  • wake-up call
  • within call
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.