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tele·​phone ˈte-lə-ˌfōn How to pronounce telephone (audio)
plural telephones
: 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)) : phone
The telephone rang.
We spoke by telephone.
a telephone call
: such as
: a telephone that operates by means of a landline
… an old-fashioned corded telephone. The kind that plugs right into the wall phone jack.Eliot Kleinberg
: cell phone
In a day when most of us have a telephone in our back pocket … the need for a pay phone no longer exists.Paul Connor


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telephoned; telephoning

transitive verb

: to speak to or attempt to reach by telephone
: to send by telephone

intransitive verb

: to communicate by telephone
telephoner noun

Examples of telephone in a Sentence

Noun I just have to make a quick telephone call before we leave. You can order the cake over the telephone. The telephone has been ringing all morning! She picked up the telephone and dialed the number. He slammed down the telephone. They hired someone to answer the telephones. All our telephones are cordless. I left the telephone off the hook. Verb He telephoned me to say that he was going to be late. He telephoned to say that he was going to be late. You never write or telephone. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
When prison guards confiscated telephones and televisions after Oct. 7, mostly cutting the detainees off from the outside world, a hidden radio became a secret lifeline. Sufian Taha, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2023 Israel also is allowing 2,642 gallons to keep internet and telephone systems running. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 19 Nov. 2023 Beat Bobby Flay Two chefs first face each other to earn the chance to challenge the program host. Love After Lockup Couples find love in spite of the prison walls between them, then they are united after years of supervised visits, recorded telephone calls and handwritten letters. Rudie Obias, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Nov. 2023 The government body was recently forced to scrap key employment data because young people didn’t bother responding to its telephone surveys. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 15 Nov. 2023 Around the same time, Josiah’s brother, seven years older than him, figured out how to reprogram cell phones so they could be transferred from one telephone carrier to another. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 There were World War II relics such as medic bags, a field telephone and helmets. Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 By 2:30 pm local time, Blanchard’s statement was picked up by the Associated Press, prompting reporter visits to Roswell and a bombardment of telephone calls from across the country, and even around the world—one came, very long distance, from the London Daily Mail—upon Sheriff Wilcox’s office. WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 Crews from throughout Mexico are working to remove rubble from streets and beaches and to restore electricity, running water, telephone and Internet service to a city and environs that was home to about 1 million when Otis struck shortly after midnight on Oct. 25. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023
As the storm gained intensity, a desperate Andrade telephoned her sister, Yesmin Andrade Rodríguez, 37, from the wavering craft. Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2023 Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, telephoned his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, to deliver the message about containing violence in the region, Miller said. William Mauldin, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2023 Blinken was also telephoning world leaders and other senior officials, such as Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eliot Cohen, to decide on a course of action, a State Department spokesman said. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2023 Councilmember Rick Robinson, the City Council’s liaison with the commission, said people can telephone the county information line at 211 to learn more about programs that offer help with utilities and other basic needs. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Sep. 2023 As terrified passengers telephoned for help, humanitarian workers assured them that a rescue team was coming. Karam Shoumali,, 1 July 2023 The shooting prompted a direct warning from Blinken, who separately telephoned RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, and Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to tell them that any danger posed to American diplomats was unacceptable. Reuters, NBC News, 18 Apr. 2023 President Biden telephoned and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Nashville to show support. Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2023 Lisa Birnbach, a longtime friend of Carroll, testified that an emotional and hyperventilating Carroll telephoned her minutes after her encounter with Trump to report what occurred. CBS News, 2 May 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1864, in the meaning defined above


1877, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of telephone was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near telephone

Cite this Entry

“Telephone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tele·​phone ˈtel-ə-ˌfōn How to pronounce telephone (audio)
: any of several devices for transmitting and receiving sounds over long distances by electricity


2 of 2 verb
telephoned; telephoning
: to communicate by telephone
: to send by telephone
: to speak to by telephone

More from Merriam-Webster on telephone

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