call

1 of 2

verb

called; calling; calls

intransitive verb

1
a
: to speak in a loud distinct voice so as to be heard at a distance : shout
call for help
b
: to make a request or demand
call for an investigation
c
of an animal : to utter a characteristic note or cry
d
: to speak to or attempt to reach someone by means of a call (see call entry 2 sense 8)
just called to say hello
I call once a week to talk to my parents.
Several weeks later our son's family called to FaceTime with us. Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)
often used with up
She called up and asked if we wanted to come over for dinner.
e
: to make a demand in card games (as for a particular card or for a show of hands)
f
: to give the calls for a square dance
2
: to make a brief visit
called to pay his respects
called on a friend

transitive verb

1
a(1)
: to utter in a loud distinct voice
often used with out
call out a number
(2)
: to announce or read loudly or authoritatively
call the roll
call off a row of figures
(3)
: to announce the play-by-play of (a sports event, such as a football game)
b(1)
: to command or request to come or be present
was called to testify
(2)
: to cause to come : bring
calls to mind an old saying
c
: to summon to a particular activity, employment, or office
was called to active duty
was called to the bar of justice
d
: to invite or command to meet : convoke
call a meeting
e
: to rouse from sleep or summon to get up
f(1)
: to give the order for : bring into action
call a strike against the company
call a pitchout
(2)
: to manage by giving the signals or orders
that catcher calls a good game
g(1)
: to make a demand in bridge for (a card or suit)
(2)
: to require (a player) to show the hand in poker by making an equal bet
(3)
: to challenge to make good on a statement
(4)
: to charge with or censure for an offense
deserves to be called on that
h
: to attract (game) by imitating the characteristic cry
i
: to halt (something, such as a baseball game) because of unsuitable conditions
j
: to rule on the status of (a pitched ball, a player's action, etc.)
call balls and strikes
call a base runner safe
k
: to give the calls for (a square dance)
often used with off
l(1)
: to demand payment of especially by formal notice
call a loan
(2)
: to demand presentation of (something, such as a bond or option) for redemption
The bonds could be called 10 years after issue.
m(1)
: to speak to or attempt to reach (someone) by means of a call (see call entry 2 sense 8)
call the doctor to make an appointment
I try to call my parents at least once a week.
He arranged for his wife, Stacey, to call him via Skype online from Kylee's fourth-grade classroom on Monday morning—a complete surprise to his daughter. Elaine Allenemrich
often used with up
Call me up when you get back from your vacation.
(2)
: to generate signals for (a telephone number) in order to reach the party to whom the number is assigned
call 911
(3)
: to make a signal to in order to transmit a message
call the flagship
2
a
: to speak of or address by a specified name : give a name to
call her Kitty
b(1)
: to regard or characterize as of a certain kind : consider
can hardly be called generous
(2)
: to estimate or consider for purposes of an estimate or for convenience
call it an even dollar
c(1)
: to describe correctly in advance of or without knowledge of the event : predict
He called the upward trend of the stock market in February.
(2)
: to name or specify in advance
call the toss of a coin
3
: to temporarily transfer control of computer processing to (something, such as a subroutine or procedure)

call

2 of 2

noun

plural calls
1
a
: an act of calling with the voice : shout
a call for help
b
: an imitation of the cry of a bird or other animal made to attract it
c
: an instrument used for calling
a duck call
d
: the cry of an animal (such as a bird)
2
a
: a request or command to come or assemble
b
: a summons or signal on a drum, bugle, or pipe
c
: admission to the bar as a barrister
d
: an invitation to become the minister of a church or to accept a professional appointment
e
: a divine vocation or strong inner prompting to a particular course of action
f
: a summoning of actors to rehearsal
the call is for 11 o'clock
g
: the attraction or appeal of a particular activity, condition, or place
the call of the wild
h
: an order specifying the number of men to be inducted into the armed services during a specified period
i
: the selection of a play in football
the quarterback's call in the huddle
3
a
: demand, claim
The aircraft industry continues to have first call on aluminum production. Americana Annual
b
: need, justification
there's no call for such behavior
c
: a demand for payment of money
d
: an option to buy a specified amount of a security (such as stock) or commodity (such as wheat) at a fixed price at or within a specified time compare put sense 2
e
: an instance of asking for something : request
many calls for Christmas stories
4
5
: a short usually formal visit
pay a call on a neighbor
6
: the name or thing called
the call was heads
7
: the act of calling in a card game
8
: the act of speaking to or attempting to reach someone by telephone or by a similar online communication service
a telephone call
a video call
made a call to the mayor
In a time before keeping in touch was an internet call away, I'd have to say goodbye forever to bedrooms, to classrooms, to friends. Soniah Kamal
Soon after news of Bazemore's return broke, Curry shared a screenshot on Instagram of the two friends on a FaceTime call. Both were smiling, no longer thinking of what-ifs. Wes Goldberg
9
: a direction or a succession of directions for a square dance rhythmically called to the dancers
10
: a decision or ruling made by an official of a sports contest
also : decision sense 1
a tough call to make
11
: a temporary transfer of control of computer processing to a particular set of instructions (such as a subroutine or procedure)
Phrases
call a spade a spade
1
: to call a thing by its right name however coarse
2
: to speak frankly
Why don't you just call a spade a spade and say that he is a liar?
call for
1
: to call (as at one's house) to get
I'll call for you after dinner
2
: to require as necessary or appropriate
the job calls for typing skills
the design calls for three windows
call forth
: elicit, evoke
these events call forth great emotions
call in question or call into question
: to cast doubt upon
a report calling into question the drug's effectiveness
call it a day
: to stop for the remainder of the day or for the present whatever one has been doing
worked another couple of hours and then called it a day
call it quits
: to call it a day : quit
call names
: to address or speak of a person or thing contemptuously or offensively
call on
1
: to call upon
Is there anyone you can call on in an emergency?
2
: to elicit a response from (someone, such as a student)
the teacher called on her first
3
US, informal : to directly criticize (someone) for (something, such as bad behavior)
… offering ample ammunition to anyone wanting to call her on her fascination with all things violent and degrading. Michael Upchurch
call one's bluff
: to challenge in order to expose an empty pretense or threat
I called his bluff just to see if he really meant what he said. Brandy Rankins
call the shots
: to be in charge or control : determine the policy or procedure
The secretary called the shots all through the meeting.
call the tune
: to call the shots
call time
: to ask for or grant a time-out
call to account
: to hold responsible : reprimand
He was called to account by his boss for making the error.
call upon
1
: require, oblige
may be called upon to do several jobs
2
: to make a demand on : depend on
universities are called upon to produce trained professionals
at call or on call
1
a
: available for use : at the service of
thousands of men at his call
b
: ready to respond to a summons or command
a doctor on call
2
: subject to demand for payment or return without previous notice
money lent at call
within call
: within hearing or reach of a summons : subject to summons
Choose the Right Synonym for call

summon, call, cite, convoke, convene, muster mean to demand the presence of.

summon implies the exercise of authority.

was summoned to answer charges

call may be used less formally for summon.

called the legislature into special session

cite implies a summoning to court usually to answer a charge.

cited for drunken driving

convoke implies a summons to assemble for deliberative or legislative purposes.

convoked a Vatican council

convene is somewhat less formal than convoke.

convened the students

muster suggests a calling up of a number of things that form a group in order that they may be exhibited, displayed, or utilized as a whole.

mustered the troops

Example Sentences

Verb He called to passersby for help. She called up to her husband, who was at the top of the stairs. Her husband called back down to her. She saw her friends across the street and called over to them. He called her name in his sleep. The birds were calling as the sun rose. I call once a week to talk to my parents. Where are you calling from? May I say who's calling? I try to call my parents at least once a week. Noun A local call costs less than a long-distance or an international call. If there are any calls for me during the meeting, say that I'll call back later. I got a call from my brother last night. He gave a call to passersby for help. We heard a bird that had a very loud and unusual call. He's an expert at doing bird calls. He has a large collection of duck calls. the call of a trumpet The government has issued a call to its supporters to defend it and hopes they will answer its call. The campaigners renewed their calls for reform. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
It’s a pay-to-play world whether anyone wants to call it that or not, and Auburn has fist-fulls of sweaty cash ready for the poker table that is handing over thousands of dollars to teenage boys based on their athletic potential. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, 28 Nov. 2022 Clades are known, in essence, by what scientists call them in scientific papers. Helen Branswell, STAT, 28 Nov. 2022 Jedy Cordilia gently objected to the label, asking Engelstad to call them forwards. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 28 Nov. 2022 So yeah, even if Die Hard’s (very) Christmas setting isn’t enough to call it a Christmas movie, its themes have Christmas written all over them like blood on a white shirt. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 28 Nov. 2022 Fuentes, who attended the bloody far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, is best known for running a white nationalist youth organization known as America First, whose adherents call themselves groypers or the Groyper Army. Alan Feuer, BostonGlobe.com, 25 Nov. 2022 By late afternoon, people started to call me after seeing my phone number on the fliers. Kellie Cummings, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2022 Get a pre-trip inspection to ensure your vehicle is ready for the road, as AAA predicts over 400,000 travelers in the country will call them for roadside assistance. The Arizona Republic, 23 Nov. 2022 Some viewers are starting to take notice of amnesia plots – and call them out. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, 23 Nov. 2022
Noun
Once speech crosses the line, the department becomes alerted to it, senior officials on the call said. Luke Barr, ABC News, 30 Nov. 2022 Consumers making more than $100,000 a year drove spending over the holiday weekend, Shay said on a call with reporters Tuesday. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 29 Nov. 2022 Montgomery police and fire medics responded to the 3900 block of Woodley Road around 11:30 p.m. Sunday on a call of a person shot, said Sgt. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 28 Nov. 2022 Cohen told analysts on an earnings call that suppliers and customers wanted a single point of contact. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, 28 Nov. 2022 Also on the call was Gilbert Higley coach Eddy Zubey, who has one of the top 2025 quarterback recruits in the nation in Jamar Malone II, who has carried the Knights to the 5A semifinal this week. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, 28 Nov. 2022 On that call, Trudeau reportedly informed the president that his government had a plan to end the protests and blockades. Chris Pandolfo, Fox News, 26 Nov. 2022 Chapek’s performance on that call, and a follow-up memo to staff, is believed to have led to his eventual ouster by the Disney board. Michael Schneider, Variety, 25 Nov. 2022 Under the terms of this interim agreement, for the 2022-23 snow and ice removal season – which runs from Dec. 3 through April 16 – bargaining unit employees assigned to mandatory snow and ice removal duties will receive $7 an hour for on-call pay. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 23 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'call.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Old Norse kalla; akin to Old English hildecalla battle herald, Old High German kallōn to talk loudly, Old Church Slavonic glasŭ voice

First Known Use

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of call was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near call

Cite this Entry

“Call.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/call. Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

call 1 of 2

verb

1
: to speak so as to be heard at a distance : shout
call for help
2
: to utter in a loud clear voice
call out a command
3
a
: to announce with authority : proclaim
call a halt
b
: to announce the action of (as a sports game)
4
: summon sense 1
call a meeting
5
: to bring into action or discussion
call up reserves
6
a
: to make a request or demand of or for
call for an end to war
b
: to give temporary control of a computer to a particular set of instructions
7
: to make a telephone call to
8
: to make a brief visit
no salesperson will call
9
a
: to give a name to
called the cat "Patches"
b
: to address by a name
what did you call me
10
: to regard as being of a certain kind
you can call them generous
11
: to estimate as being
call it an even dollar
12
a
: to utter a cry
crows calling
b
: to attract game by imitating its cry
13
: halt entry 4 sense 2, suspend
call a game on account of rain
call time
call for
1
: to stop by (as at one's house) to get
I'll call for you later
2
: to require as necessary
the job calls for computer skills
call on
1
: to ask or require : demand
2
: to choose (as a student) to answer
the teacher called on her first
call the shots
: to be in charge or control
call upon
1
2
: to depend on
caller noun

call

2 of 2

noun

1
: a loud cry : shout
2
a
: a cry of an animal
b
: an imitation of an animal's cry or a device used to make such an imitation
3
b
: attraction sense 1
the call of the wild
4
5
: a brief visit
6
: the act of calling on the telephone
7
: a ruling made by an official of a sports contest
8
: a temporary transfer of control of computer processing to a particular set of instructions

Legal Definition

call 1 of 2

transitive verb

1
: to announce or recite loudly
called the civil trial list
2
: to admit (a person) as a barrister
was called to the bar
3
: to demand payment of especially by formal notice
call a loan
4
: to demand presentation of (as a bond or option) for redemption

Note: A security issuer may call a security only if calling it is previously provided for, as, for example, in the indenture for a bond or in the stock agreement for preferred stock. The issuer usually pays the holder a premium for a called security.

call

2 of 2

noun

1
: a demand for payment of money: as
a
: a notice by the U.S. Treasury to depositories to transfer part of its deposit balance to the Federal Reserve bank
b
: a notice to a stockholder or subscriber to pay an assessment or an installment of subscription to capital
2
: call option at option 3
3
a
: a formal announcement or recitation
the daily call of the motion calendar
b
: roll call
the speaker ordered a call of the house

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