[ kawl ]
See synonyms for: callcalledcalling on

verb (used with object)
  1. to cry out in a loud voice; shout: He called her name to see if she was home.

  2. to command or request to come; summon: to call a dog; to call a cab;to call a witness.

  1. to ask or invite to come: Will you call the family to dinner?

  2. to communicate or try to communicate with by telephone: Call me when you arrive.

  3. to rouse from sleep, as by a call; waken: Call me at eight o'clock.

  4. to read over (a roll or a list) in a loud voice.

  5. to convoke or convene: We will now call Congress into session.

  6. to announce authoritatively; proclaim: The company called a halt to production of their latest line after many items failed quality checks.

  7. to order into effect; decree: The union is planning to call a strike late this year.

  8. to schedule: The director should call one more rehearsal before opening night.

  9. to summon by or as if by divine command: He felt called to the ministry.

  10. to summon to an office, duty, etc.: His country called him to service during the Korean War.

  11. to cause to come; bring: to call to mind;to call into existence.

  12. to bring under consideration or discussion: The judge called the case to court.

  13. to attract or lure (birds or animals) by imitating characteristic sounds.

  14. to direct or attract (attention): He called his roommate's attention to the mess.

  15. to name or address (someone) as: His parents named him James, but the boys call him Jim.

  16. to designate as something specified: He called me a liar.

  17. to think of as something specified; consider; estimate: I call that a mean remark.

  18. to demand of (someone) that they fulfill a promise, furnish evidence for a statement, etc.: They called him on his story.

  19. to criticize adversely; express disapproval of; censure: She called him on his vulgar language.

  20. to demand payment or fulfillment of (a loan).

  21. to demand presentation of (bonds) for redemption.

  22. to forecast correctly: He has called the outcome of the last three elections.

  23. Sports. (of an official)

    • to pronounce a judgment on (a shot, pitch, batter, etc.): The umpire called the pitch a strike.

    • to put an end to (a contest) because of inclement weather, poor field conditions, etc.: A sudden downpour forced the umpire to call the game.

  24. Pool. to name (the ball) one intends to drive into a particular pocket.

  25. Computers. to invoke (a subroutine or procedure) in a computer program.

  26. Cards.

    • to demand (a card).

    • to demand the display of a hand by (a player).

    • Poker. to equal (a bet) or equal the bet made by (the preceding bettor) in a round.

    • Bridge. to signal one's partner for a lead of (a certain card or suit).

verb (used without object)
  1. to speak loudly, as to attract attention; shout; cry: She called to the children.

  2. to telephone or try to telephone a person: He promised to call at noon.

  1. to make a short visit; stop at a place on some errand or business: She called at the store for the package.

  2. Cards.

    • to demand a card.

    • to demand a showing of hands.

    • Poker. to equal a bet.

    • Bridge. to bid or pass.

  3. (of a bird or animal) to utter its characteristic cry.

  1. a cry or shout: She gave a call across the lawn to her friend.

  2. the cry or vocal sound of a bird or other animal: A crow's call sounds different from a raven's.

  1. an instrument for imitating this cry and attracting or luring an animal: He bought a duck call.

  2. an act or instance of telephoning: She returned his call as soon as her meeting was over.

  3. a short visit: to make a call on someone.

  4. a summons or signal sounded by a bugle, bell, etc.: We live so close to the fort that we can hear the bugle calls.

  5. a summons, invitation, or bidding: The students gathered at the call of the dean.

  6. a calling of a roll; roll call.

  7. the fascination or appeal of a given place, vocation, etc.: the call of the sea.

  8. a mystic experience of divine appointment to a vocation or service: He had a call to become a minister.

  9. a request or invitation to become pastor of a church, a professor in a university, etc.

  10. a need or occasion: He had no call to say such outrageous things.

  11. a demand or claim: to make a call on a person's time.

  12. a demand for payment of an obligation, especially where payment is at the option of the creditor.

  13. Cards.

    • a demand for a card or a showing of hands.

    • Poker. an equaling of the preceding bet.

    • Bridge. a bid or pass.

  14. Sports. a judgment or decision by an umpire, a referee, or other official of a contest, as on a shot, pitch, or batter: The referees were making one bad call after another.

  15. Theater.

  16. Dance. a figure or direction in square dancing, announced to the dancers by the caller.

  17. Also called call option .Finance. an option that gives the right to buy a fixed amount of a particular stock at a predetermined price within a given period of time, purchased by a person who believes the price will rise.: Compare put (def. 24).

  18. Fox Hunting. any of several cries, or sounds made on a horn by the hunter to encourage the hounds.

Verb Phrases
  1. call away, to cause to leave or go; summon: A death in the family called him away.

  2. call back. See entry at callback.

  1. call down,

    • to request or pray for; invoke: to call down the wrath of God.

    • to reprimand; scold: The boss called us down for lateness.

  2. call for,

    • to go or come to get; pick up; fetch.

    • to request; summon.

    • to require; need: The occasion calls for a cool head.

  3. call forth, to summon into action; bring into existence: to call forth her courage and resolve.

  4. call in. See entry at call in.

  5. call in / into question question (def. 17).

  6. call off,

    • to distract; take away: Please call off your dog.

    • to cancel (something) that had been planned for a certain date: The performance was called off because of rain.

  7. call on / upon

    • to ask; appeal to: They called on him to represent them.

    • to visit for a short time: to call on friends.

  8. call out. See entry at callout.

  9. call up,

    • to bring forward for consideration or discussion.

    • to cause to remember; evoke.

    • to communicate or try to communicate with by telephone.

    • to summon for action or service: A large number of Army reservists were called up.

    • Computers. to summon (information) from a computer system for display on a screen: She called up the full text.

Idioms about call

  1. call in sick. sick1 (def. 15).

  2. call to order. order (def. 48).

  1. on call,

    • payable or subject to return without advance notice.

    • readily available for summoning upon short notice.

  2. take a call, to acknowledge the applause of the audience after a performance by appearing for a bow or a curtain call.

  3. within call, within distance or range of being spoken to or summoned: Please stay within call.

Origin of call

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English callen, cal(e), probably from Old Norse kalla “to call out, shout,” 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,” Old Church Slavonic glasŭ “voice”

synonym study For call

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.

Other words from call

  • un·called, adjective
  • well-called, adjective

Words that may be confused with call Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use call in a sentence

  • That which is called nasality is caused by the failure of the tone to reach freely the anterior cavities of the nares.

    Expressive Voice Culture | Jessie Eldridge Southwick
  • I called out several times, as loud as I could raise my voice, but all to no purpose.

    Gulliver's Travels | Jonathan Swift
  • Many so-called "humming tones" are given for practice, but in accepting them observe whether the foregoing principle is obeyed.

    Expressive Voice Culture | Jessie Eldridge Southwick
  • I called it a spinet, because it somewhat resembled that instrument, and was played upon in the same manner.

    Gulliver's Travels | Jonathan Swift
  • He wanted to tell her that if she called her father, it would mean the end of everything for them, but he withheld this.

    The Homesteader | Oscar Micheaux

British Dictionary definitions for call


/ (kɔːl) /

  1. (often foll by out) to speak or utter (words, sounds, etc) loudly so as to attract attention: he called out her name

  2. (tr) to ask or order to come: to call a policeman

  1. (intr sometimes foll by on) to make a visit (to): she called on him

  2. (often foll by up) to telephone (a person): he called back at nine

  3. (tr) to summon to a specific office, profession, etc: he was called to the ministry

  4. (of animals or birds) to utter (a characteristic sound or cry)

  5. (tr) to summon (a bird or animal) by imitating its cry

  6. (tr) to name or style: they called the dog Rover

  7. (tr) to designate: they called him a coward

  8. (tr) British dialect to speak ill of or scold

  9. (tr) to regard in a specific way: I call it a foolish waste of time

  10. (tr) to attract (attention)

  11. (tr) to read (a list, register, etc) aloud to check for omissions or absentees

  12. (when tr, usually foll by for) to give an order (for): to call a strike

  13. (intr) to try to predict the result of tossing a coin

  14. (tr) to awaken: I was called early this morning

  15. (tr) to cause to assemble: to call a meeting

  16. (tr) sport (of an umpire, referee, etc) to pass judgment upon (a shot, player, etc) with a call

  17. (tr) Australian and NZ to broadcast a commentary on (a horse race or other sporting event)

  18. (tr) to demand repayment of (a loan, redeemable bond, security, etc)

  19. (tr often foll by up) accounting to demand payment of (a portion of a share issue not yet paid by subscribers)

  20. (tr) British to award (a student at an Inn of Court) the degree of barrister (esp in the phrase call to the bar)

  21. (tr) computing to transfer control to (a named subprogram)

  22. (tr) poker to demand that (a player) expose his hand, after equalling his bet

  23. (intr) bridge to make a bid

  24. (in square-dancing) to call out (instructions) to the dancers

  25. billiards to ask (a player) to say what kind of shot he will play or (of a player) to name his shot

  26. (intr foll by for)

    • to require: this problem calls for study

    • to come or go (for) in order to fetch: I will call for my book later

  27. (intr; foll by on or upon) to make an appeal or request (to): they called upon him to reply

  28. (tr) to predict the outcome of an event: we don't know yet if the plan has succeeded because it's too soon to call

  29. call into being to create

  30. call into play to begin to operate

  31. call in question or call into question See question (def. 12)

  32. call it a day to stop work or other activity

  33. too close to call (of the outcome of a competition, election, match, etc) unable to be predicted

  34. call to mind to remember or cause to be remembered

  1. a cry or shout

  2. the characteristic cry of a bird or animal

  1. a device, such as a whistle, intended to imitate the cry of a bird or animal

  2. a summons or invitation

  3. a summons or signal sounded on a horn, bugle, etc

  4. hunting any of several notes or patterns of notes, blown on a hunting horn as a signal

  5. hunting

    • an imitation of the characteristic cry of a wild animal or bird to lure it to the hunter

    • an instrument for producing such an imitation

  6. a short visit: the doctor made six calls this morning

  7. an inner urge to some task or profession; vocation

  8. allure or fascination, esp of a place: the call of the forest

  9. British the summons to the bar of a student member of an Inn of Court

  10. need, demand, or occasion: there is no call to shout; we don't get much call for stockings these days

  11. demand or claim (esp in the phrase the call of duty)

  12. theatre a notice to actors informing them of times of rehearsals

  13. (in square dancing) an instruction to execute new figures

  14. a conversation or a request for a connection by telephone

  15. commerce

    • a demand for repayment of a loan

    • (as modifier): call money

  16. finance

    • a demand for redeemable bonds or shares to be presented for repayment

    • a demand for an instalment payment on the issue price of bonds or shares

  17. billiards a demand to an opponent to say what kind of shot he will play

  18. poker a demand for a hand or hands to be exposed

  19. bridge a bid, or a player's turn to bid

  20. a decision or judgment: it's your call

  21. sport a decision of an umpire or referee regarding a shot, pitch, etc

  22. Australian a broadcast commentary on a horse race or other sporting event

  23. Also called: call option stock exchange an option to buy a stated amount of securities at a specified price during a specified period: Compare put (def. 20)

  24. 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

  25. call of nature See nature (def. 16)

  26. on call

    • (of a loan, etc) repayable on demand

    • available to be called for work outside normal working hours

  27. within call within range; accessible

Origin of 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with call


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.