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
However, there aren’t many phones (including iPhones) on the market these days that don’t throttle a bit, save for perhaps beefier high-end gaming phones. Dave Altavilla, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Jefferson’s neighbor described open front doors in a phone call with a police communications employee. Emerson Clarridge, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 Feb. 2024 Customer service at Kratom Country can be contacted by phone or email between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm (PST) Monday through Friday. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 In a video captured by Elizabeth Holmes and shared on Instagram, Meghan holds out her phone before covering her mouth, laughing and cheering as Harry approaches. Jordan Greene, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2024 Prism didn’t return an email and phone message from the Miami Herald. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 But rather than wait for the 2026 Oscar season, The Envelope spoke — via email, phone and Zoom — with the casting directors of 2024’s 10 best picture nominees to learn more about their work. Daniel Vaillancourt, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 This would open up the idea that people with spare computing capacity on their phone or laptop might be able to share that, perhaps for a fee, with someone who needed that computing power at that moment to run an AI model. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 15 Feb. 2024 Iridium’s first crack at satellite phones for consumers in the 1990s was a failure on its original terms. Natallie Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Feb. 2024
Verb
To say that Johnson in particular phoned this performance in would be an insult to Alexander Graham Bell. David Sims, The Atlantic, 14 Feb. 2024 There were the things that didn’t, like U2 phoning in a bit from Sphere that just proved some of the best live experiences really aren’t transportable to television. Chris Willman, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024 Managers at the Home Depot in San Rafael cleared the store of customers and employees on Friday after someone phoned in a threat, police said. Cameron MacDonald, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024 Anonymous tips can also be phoned in to Crime Stoppers of Tarrant County at 817-469-8477. Nicole Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 Jan. 2024 Clinical staff such as nurses had phoned them to follow up, but did not appear to have mentioned the possibility of antiviral medication, based on the records reviewed by the researchers. Emily Alpert Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2024 Outside of the marquee awards shows, many male actors are inclined to phone it in, sartorially speaking. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 17 Jan. 2024 The actor phoned in from a bustling Brooklyn coffee shop to chat about his life-changing role. Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2024 Michael Shapiro, 72, allegedly phoned a member of Congress' Washington, D.C., office five times on Dec. 19. Luke Barr, ABC News, 4 Jan. 2024 See More

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 Feb. 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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