See more synonyms for telephone on
  1. an apparatus, system, or process for transmission of sound or speech to a distant point, especially by an electric device.
verb (used with object), tel·e·phoned, tel·e·phon·ing.
  1. to speak to or summon (a person) by telephone.
  2. to send (a message) by telephone.
verb (used without object), tel·e·phoned, tel·e·phon·ing.
  1. to send a message by telephone.
Also phone.

Origin of telephone

First recorded in 1825–35; tele-1 + -phone
Related formstel·e·phon·er, nounpre·tel·e·phone, adjectivere·tel·e·phone, verb, re·tel·e·phoned, re·tel·e·phon·ing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for telephone

phone, dial, contact, ring, call, buzz

Examples from the Web for telephone

Contemporary Examples of telephone

Historical Examples of telephone

  • A telephone message had already told him of the death of Bill Dozier.

  • "That's what they got over the telephone," said Scottie apologetically.

  • They'll take the telephone and rouse the towns all along the mountains.

  • When, finally, he addressed his friend over the telephone, his tones were of the cheerfulest.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Only the maid answered the ringing of the telephone, and his notes were seemingly unheeded.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for telephone


    1. Also called: telephone setan 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
  1. See telephone box
  1. to call or talk to (a person) by telephone
  2. 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 Formstelephoner, nountelephonic (ˌtɛlɪˈfɒnɪk), adjectivetelephonically, 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

Word Origin and History for telephone

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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper