Nearby words

  1. calixtus ii,
  2. calixtus iii,
  3. calk,
  4. calker,
  5. calkin,
  6. call a halt,
  7. call a spade a spade,
  8. call alarm,
  9. call back,
  10. call box


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 upon



(often foll by out) to speak or utter (words, sounds, etc) loudly so as to attract attentionhe called out her name
(tr) to ask or order to cometo call a policeman
(intr sometimes foll by on) to make a visit (to)she called on him
(often foll by up) to telephone (a person)he called back at nine
(tr) to summon to a specific office, profession, etche was called to the ministry
(of animals or birds) to utter (a characteristic sound or cry)
(tr) to summon (a bird or animal) by imitating its cry
(tr) to name or stylethey called the dog Rover
(tr) to designatethey called him a coward
(tr) British dialect to speak ill of or scold
(tr) to regard in a specific wayI call it a foolish waste of time
(tr) to attract (attention)
(tr) to read (a list, register, etc) aloud to check for omissions or absentees
(when tr, usually foll by for) to give an order (for)to call a strike
(intr) to try to predict the result of tossing a coin
(tr) to awakenI was called early this morning
(tr) to cause to assembleto call a meeting
(tr) sport (of an umpire, referee, etc) to pass judgment upon (a shot, player, etc) with a call
(tr) Australian and NZ to broadcast a commentary on (a horse race or other sporting event)
(tr) to demand repayment of (a loan, redeemable bond, security, etc)
(tr often foll by up) accounting to demand payment of (a portion of a share issue not yet paid by subscribers)
(tr) British to award (a student at an Inn of Court) the degree of barrister (esp in the phrase call to the bar)
(tr) computing to transfer control to (a named subprogram)
(tr) poker to demand that (a player) expose his hand, after equalling his bet
(intr) bridge to make a bid
(in square-dancing) to call out (instructions) to the dancers
billiards to ask (a player) to say what kind of shot he will play or (of a player) to name his shot
(intr foll by for)
  1. to requirethis problem calls for study
  2. to come or go (for) in order to fetchI will call for my book later
(intr; foll by on or upon) to make an appeal or request (to)they called upon him to reply
(tr) to predict the outcome of an eventwe don't know yet if the plan has succeeded because it's too soon to call
call into being to create
call into play to begin to operate
call in question or call into question See question (def. 12)
call it a day to stop work or other activity
too close to call (of the outcome of a competition, election, match, etc) unable to be predicted
call to mind to remember or cause to be remembered


a cry or shout
the characteristic cry of a bird or animal
a device, such as a whistle, intended to imitate the cry of a bird or animal
a summons or invitation
a summons or signal sounded on a horn, bugle, etc
hunting any of several notes or patterns of notes, blown on a hunting horn as a signal
  1. an imitation of the characteristic cry of a wild animal or bird to lure it to the hunter
  2. an instrument for producing such an imitation
a short visitthe doctor made six calls this morning
an inner urge to some task or profession; vocation
allure or fascination, esp of a placethe call of the forest
British the summons to the bar of a student member of an Inn of Court
need, demand, or occasionthere is no call to shout; we don't get much call for stockings these days
demand or claim (esp in the phrase the call of duty)
theatre a notice to actors informing them of times of rehearsals
(in square dancing) an instruction to execute new figures
a conversation or a request for a connection by telephone
  1. a demand for repayment of a loan
  2. (as modifier)call money
  1. a demand for redeemable bonds or shares to be presented for repayment
  2. a demand for an instalment payment on the issue price of bonds or shares
billiards a demand to an opponent to say what kind of shot he will play
poker a demand for a hand or hands to be exposed
bridge a bid, or a player's turn to bid
a decision or judgmentit's your call
sport a decision of an umpire or referee regarding a shot, pitch, etc
Australian a broadcast commentary on a horse race or other sporting event
Also called: call option stock exchange an option to buy a stated amount of securities at a specified price during a specified periodCompare put (def. 20)
call for margin stock exchange a demand made by a stockbroker for partial payment of a client's debt due to decreasing value of the collateral
call of nature See nature (def. 16)
on call
  1. (of a loan, etc) repayable on demand
  2. available to be called for work outside normal working hours
within call within range; accessible

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 upon
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with call upon

call upon

see call on.


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.