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

Examples of call in a Sentence

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
Congress might also call on President Biden to ban TikTok under the IEEPA. Emily Baker-White, Forbes, 14 Feb. 2023 Kia customers can also call customer care at 1-800-333-4542 or check out owners.kia.com/us/en/kia-owner-portal.html. Saleen Martin, USA TODAY, 14 Feb. 2023 Anyone who would like to get connected to treatment, or knows someone who does, can call 1-800-563-4086 or visit connectgnh.org at any day or time. Hartford Courant, 14 Feb. 2023 Breakouts might call for the Salicylic + Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser and Aloe + Algae Lightweight Gel Cream, whereas dry skin might crave a boost of moisture from the Hyaluronic + Arnica Hydrating Serum. Lisa Desantis, Allure, 14 Feb. 2023 Marx himself would call DEI a classic case of ideology, a set of benign-seeming ideas that disguise the workings of the rulers, in this case empowered progressives. WSJ, 14 Feb. 2023 However, today most young people rarely call each other. Andrea Wigfield, CNN, 14 Feb. 2023 Their children’s schoolmates call the sisters the Puffling Queens. Cheryl Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 Those in need of shelter from the cold can call 211 to check availability of beds. Los Angeles Times, 14 Feb. 2023
Noun
After receiving a 911 call from a resident about a gassy odor, the crew arrived at the house on Friday night and discovered a 500-gallon underground propane tank and a leak on the side of the residence. Brian Anthony Hernandez, Peoplemag, 18 Feb. 2024 Some expressed concern privately in interviews that the call to withdraw had come too late, or posted stark accounts on social media of their dangerous and chaotic retreat. Constant Méheut, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2024 The call kicked off a hard day of training in various firefighting skills at the agency’s facility in the Midway District. Emily Alvarenga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Feb. 2024 But this labor dispute is about a lot more than whether the right calls are made in the right moments. Ian Nicholas Quillen, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 According to the Compton Fire Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, authorities responded to a 911 call on Friday morning at around 8 a.m. Authorities said that a woman made a frantic call that her 35-year-old boyfriend was severely hurt after being attacked by pit bulls. Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Fox News, 18 Feb. 2024 Police received a call about someone shooting a firearm from a truck on K-7 Highway and responded to a robbery around 11 a.m. at a QuikTrip in the 20600 block of Shawnee Mission Parkway, according to a post on X from the Shawnee Police Department. Andrea Klick, Kansas City Star, 18 Feb. 2024 The call came in Monday night from the Daytona Beach apartment complex on South Beach Street after a man was reportedly struck with a samurai sword. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'call.' 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

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 24 Feb. 2024.

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
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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