call·​ing ˈkȯ-liŋ How to pronounce calling (audio)
: a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
: the vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
: the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat
also : the period of heat
Choose the Right Synonym for calling

work, employment, occupation, calling, pursuit, métier, business mean a specific sustained activity engaged in especially in earning one's living.

work may apply to any purposeful activity whether remunerative or not.

her work as a hospital volunteer

employment implies work for which one has been engaged and is being paid by an employer.

your employment with this firm is hereby terminated

occupation implies work in which one engages regularly especially as a result of training.

his occupation as a trained auto mechanic

calling applies to an occupation viewed as a vocation or profession.

the ministry seemed my true calling

pursuit suggests a trade, profession, or avocation followed with zeal or steady interest.

her family considered medicine the only proper pursuit

métier implies a calling or pursuit for which one believes oneself to be especially fitted.

acting was my one and only métier

business suggests activity in commerce or the management of money and affairs.

the business of managing a hotel

Example Sentences

He had always felt a calling to help others. He experienced a calling to enter the priesthood.
Recent Examples on the Web There was a stem-cell research lab, which felt, for a bit, like his calling. Ryan D'agostino, Men's Health, 14 Mar. 2023 Kaep more than likely would have defeated Baltimore in that Super Bowl — if Jim Harbaugh’s comical play-calling near the goal line gave him a chance. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Mar. 2023 In Daboll's offense and with offensive coordinator Mike Kafka's play-calling, Jones led the Giants to their first playoff berth since 2016. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 7 Mar. 2023 Like preferring to speak face-to-face over video-calling. Daisy Jones, Vogue, 18 Feb. 2023 Maybe Mike McCarthy’s play-calling can make a difference. Dallas News, 17 Feb. 2023 Nick Sirianni, the analytical head coach of the Eagles, is confident and aggressive in his play-calling, particularly on fourth down. David Hill, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2023 While Montgomery will handle primary play-calling and Freeze will have his areas and moments of specific decision-making on that front, the two expect to be on the same page with their offensive approach for Auburn this season. Tom Green |, al, 2 Feb. 2023 Steichen’s play-calling, like most coaches, is based in preparation. The Indianapolis Star, 15 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of calling was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near calling

Cite this Entry

“Calling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


call·​ing ˈkȯ-liŋ How to pronounce calling (audio)

Medical Definition


call·​ing ˈkȯ-liŋ How to pronounce calling (audio)
: the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat
also : the period of heat

More from Merriam-Webster on calling

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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