phone

1 of 5

noun (1)

plural phones
1
: a device by which sound (such as speech) is converted into electrical impulses and transmitted (as by wire or radio waves) to one or more specific receivers (see receiver sense d(1)) : telephone
Once it was as simple as this. I sat at my desk. The phone rang. I answered it.Malcolm Gladwell
received a phone call
: such as
a
: a telephone that operates by means of a landline
… the phone is in the front hall; this is an old-fashioned house …Alice Munro
b
: cell phone
… Dick got a call on his cell phone. Roxy grabbed the phone and answered.Mary-Anne Olmsted-Kohls
especially : smartphone
I have set an alert on my phone to make sure I don't forget a friend's birthday … Mike Vaccaro
2
: a device that converts electrical energy into sound waves and is worn over or inserted into the ear : earphone, headphone
The morning the "Smoking Gun" tape was played, tickets were so scarce that one couple from Kansas City, Mo., doubled up on earphones, she listening to the left, he to the right phone.Louise Sweeney
… taking off these RHA headphones and placing the Dr. Dre phones on my head, I realized the more expensive headphones did sound somewhat cleaner …Charlie White

phone

2 of 5

verb

phoned; phoning

phone

3 of 5

noun (2)

: a speech sound considered as a physical event without regard to its place in the sound system of a language

-phone

4 of 5

noun combining form

plural -phones
1
: sound-transmitting device
microphone
radiophone
2
: musical instrument
xylophone
3
: speech sound
homophone
: symbol representing a speech sound
polyphone
4
: speaker of (a specified language)
Francophone

-phone

5 of 5

adjective combining form

: of or relating to a population that speaks (a specified language)
Francophone

Examples of phone in a Sentence

Verb Someone from the newspaper will be phoning with a few questions. she phoned her friend to invite her over for dinner
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
During the phone call, investigator allege, Abu Chowdhury severely beat the victim to ensure his screams could be heard through the telephone. Colin Mixson, New York Daily News, 14 June 2024 Expand All Wednesday’s ceaseless rains caused phones to explode with alerts, delayed the Florida Panthers departure to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, shut down Interstate 95 and provided social media with a lot of content. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 13 June 2024
Verb
President Bush took time out from his war plans to phone her elated parents, Ed and Lois Smart. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 7 June 2024 He can be heard groaning in pain as officers phone for help. Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News, 29 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for phone 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phone.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

by shortening

Verb

derivative of phone entry 1

Noun (2)

borrowed from Greek phōnḗ "voice, speech" — more at phono-

Noun combining form

borrowed from Greek -phōnos "having a sound (of the kind or number specified)," derivative of phōnḗ "sound made by something living, voice, speech, utterance"; (sense 4) borrowed from French, borrowed from Greek -phōnos — more at phono-

Adjective combining form

borrowed from French — more at -phone entry 1

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1885, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

circa 1866, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phone was circa 1866

Dictionary Entries Near phone

Cite this Entry

“Phone.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phone. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

phone

1 of 3 noun

phone

2 of 3 verb
phoned; phoning

-phone

3 of 3 noun combining form
ˌfōn
: sound
homophone
often in names of musical instruments and sound-sending devices
radiophone
xylophone
Etymology

Noun combining form

from Greek phōnē "voice, sound"

More from Merriam-Webster on phone

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