[ kaw-ling ]
/ ˈkɔ lɪŋ /

WATCH NOW: What Does The Word "Calling" Actually Mean?

WATCH NOW: What Does The Word "Calling" Actually Mean?

It's probably wise to listen to our callings. Sometimes they're loud—like someone calling our name—or sometimes they're much more subtle, like that little voice in our head telling us “this is what we’re meant to do.”



the act of a person or thing that calls.
vocation, profession, or trade: What is your calling?
a call or summons: He had a calling to join the church.
a strong impulse or inclination: She did it in response to an inner calling.
a convocation: the calling of Congress.

Origin of calling

Middle English word dating back to 1200–50; see origin at call, -ing1

Definition for calling (2 of 2)

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 forms

un·called, adjectivewell-called, adjective

Can be confused

call 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

Examples from the Web for calling

British Dictionary definitions for calling (1 of 2)


/ (ˈkɔːlɪŋ) /


a strong inner urge to follow an occupation, etc; vocation
an occupation, profession, or trade

British Dictionary definitions for calling (2 of 2)


/ (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

Idioms and Phrases with calling


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.