Meaning of TELEPHONE in English



1. to speak to someone by telephone

2. to make a telephone call that is paid for by the person you are telephoning

3. to telephone someone again

4. a telephone call

5. someone who is making a telephone call

6. when you use the telephone in order to tell someone something

7. to end a telephone call

8. when a telephone line is busy

9. when you want to leave a message for someone


see also






1. to speak to someone by telephone

▷ call /kɔːl/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

▪ To find out more, call 555-1972.

▪ Can you call Becky before six?

▪ She called about twenty minutes ago.

call for

▪ I’ll call for a taxi now.

call round British /around American

call several people or organizations, especially to get information

▪ I called round to see if anyone knew where Tom was.

▪ His secretary started calling around to find out where the commission was meeting.

▷ phone also ring British /fəʊn, rɪŋ/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

▪ I’ll phone you if there’s any news.

▪ Shall I ring Sarah to see if she wants to come out with us?

▪ Did anyone ring while I was out?

▪ Jill phoned to tell you she’ll see you tonight.

phone for

▪ Let’s phone for a pizza tonight.

phone/ring round

British telephone several people or organizations, especially to get information

▪ You’d better ring round some travel agents to get some prices.

▷ telephone /ˈtelɪfəʊn, ˈteləfəʊn/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

to speak to someone by telephone. Telephone is more formal than phone or call, and is used especially in writing :

▪ About five o'clock, a woman telephoned Bernstein.

▪ For details of your nearest tourist office telephone 4127.

▪ Mr Dodd telephoned this morning.

telephone for

▪ Write or telephone for more information.

▷ ring/phone up British /call up American /ˌrɪŋ, ˌfəʊn ˈʌp, ˌkɔːl ˈʌp/ [intransitive/transitive phrasal verb]

to speak to someone by telephone, especially in order to have a friendly conversation with them or to ask for information :

▪ Your uncle rang up about an hour ago.

▪ ‘I don’t know what time the last train is.’ ‘Well, phone up and find out.’

ring/call/phone up somebody

▪ Why don’t you call up Jackie and apologize?

▪ She uses the office phone to phone up her friends in Sweden.

ring/call/phone somebody up

▪ John called him up to make sure of the date of the graduation ceremony.

▪ I might phone him up at home.

▷ give somebody a call also give somebody a ring British /ˌgɪv somebody ə ˈkɔːl, ˌgɪv somebody ə ˈrɪŋ/ [verb phrase] spoken

to speak to someone by telephone - use this especially when you are telling someone that you will telephone them, or when you are asking them to telephone :

▪ Just give me a call if you need anything.

▪ Why don’t I give you a ring later and find out when you’ll be free?

▷ make a call/phone call/telephone call /ˌmeɪk ə ˈkɔːl, ˈfəʊn kɔːl, ˈtelə̇fəʊn ˌkɔːl/ [verb phrase]

to use the telephone to speak to someone :

▪ Diana made a quick call to Munich before the meeting.

▪ There’s a pay phone in the lobby if you need to make a telephone call.

▪ Limit the number of personal phone calls you make at work.

▷ be on the phone /biː ɒn ðə ˈfəʊn/ [verb phrase]

to be speaking to someone on the telephone :

▪ Rosie’s still on the phone.

▪ There’s someone on the phone for you.

be on the phone to

▪ He was on the phone to a friend when he noticed the smoke.

be on the phone with

▪ How long are workers on the phone with customers?

talk/speak on the phone

▪ Marie and I talk on the phone at least once a week.

have somebody on the phone

to have someone calling you

▪ Mr Rogers, I have Anita Payne on the phone for you.

▷ give somebody a buzz/ring informal also give somebody a bell British informal /ˌgɪv somebody ə ˈbʌz, ˈrɪŋ, ˌgɪv somebody ə ˈbel/ [verb phrase]

to telephone someone :

▪ I’ll give Larry a buzz. Maybe he’ll want to go too.

▪ Can you give Mary a bell? She rang earlier.

▪ Give me a ring if you decide you can come.

▷ get through /ˌget ˈθruː/ [intransitive phrasal verb]

to succeed in reaching someone by telephone :

▪ I tried calling my parents, but I couldn’t get through.

get through to

▪ Did you get through to Mr McWhirter?

2. to make a telephone call that is paid for by the person you are telephoning

▷ reverse the charges also call collect American /rɪˌvɜːʳs ðə ˈtʃɑːʳdʒə̇z, ˌkɔːl kəˈlekt/ [verb phrase]

▪ Call collect if you need to.

▪ If something goes wrong, call us and reverse the charges.

call somebody collect

▪ Anyone with information may call Doug Howarth collect at 555-0976.

3. to telephone someone again

▷ call back also ring back British /ˌkɔːl ˈbæk, ˌrɪŋ ˈbæk/ [intransitive/transitive phrasal verb]

to telephone someone again, for example because they were not available when you telephoned them before :

▪ ‘Would you like to leave a message?’ ‘No, that’s okay. I’ll call back later.’

▪ I’m afraid Mr Jones is in a meeting. Could you ring back in about an hour?

call somebody back

▪ ‘Does Jake want me to call him back?’ ‘No, he said to meet him at eight o'clock.’

▷ return a call/phone call/telephone call /rɪˌtɜːʳn ə ˈkɔːl, ˈfəʊn kɔːl, ˈtelə̇fəʊn ˌkɔːl/ [verb phrase]

to telephone someone because they telephoned you before when you were not available - use this especially in business contexts :

▪ Gage did not return phone calls from reporters to his office Monday.

▪ Dr Shapiro is busy right now, but I’ll ask him to return your call when he’s free.

▷ try again /ˌtraɪ əˈgen/ [verb phrase]

to telephone a number again because someone was already speaking on that line when you telephoned before :

▪ I’ve already phoned him twice, but I suppose I’d better try again.

try somebody/a number again

▪ It’s engaged. I’ll try her again later.

4. a telephone call

▷ call/phone call/telephone call /kɔːl, ˈfəʊn kɔːl, ˈtelə̇fəʊn ˌkɔːl/ [countable noun]

▪ We keep getting calls from newspaper reporters.

▪ One phone call to London got her a job interview.

▪ After several telephone calls, detectives traced two witnesses to the accident.

call/phone call/telephone call for

▪ Mr Deckard, there’s a call for you. Will you take it in your office?

long-distance call

to or from someone a long way away

▪ He made several long-distance calls to Hong Kong.

local call

to someone near you

▪ Local calls are free.

5. someone who is making a telephone call

▷ caller /ˈkɔːləʳ/ [countable noun]

someone who is making a telephone call - used especially by people who work with telephones :

▪ Did the caller leave a number?

▪ Hold on please, I have an overseas call for you. Go ahead, caller.

6. when you use the telephone in order to tell someone something

▷ on/over the phone /ɒn, əʊvəʳ ðə ˈfəʊn/ [adverb]

▪ You can buy them by credit card over the phone.

▪ The ticket office told me on the phone that I’d have front-row seats in section D.

▪ I didn’t want to go into details on the phone, so we arranged a meeting in my office for the next day.

▪ Maria started crying over the phone as she told me about it.

▷ by phone/telephone /baɪ ˈfəʊn, ˈtelə̇fəʊn/ [adverb]

if you tell someone something by phone or by telephone, you make a telephone call to tell them it :

▪ The survey questions 500 people a month by phone.

▪ Reservations can be made by telephone, but must be confirmed in writing within seven days.

7. to end a telephone call

▷ hang up /ˌhæŋ ˈʌp/ [intransitive/transitive phrasal verb]

to finish a telephone conversation or stop it before it has finished by putting down the receiver the part of a telephone you speak into :

▪ If a caller is rude, just hang up.

hang up the phone/receiver

▪ I said I’d be right there. I hung up the phone and grabbed my purse and car keys.

hang up on somebody

put the telephone down while someone is still talking

▪ Mitchell was furious and hung up on him.

▷ put the phone down /ˌpʊt ðə ˈfəʊn daʊn/ [verb phrase] especially British

to put down the receiver the part of a telephone you speak into after you have finished talking to someone :

▪ There was a long pause, and she was about to put the phone down when the voice came back again.

▷ slam the phone down/slam down the phone /ˌslæm ðə ˈfəʊn daʊn, ˌslæm daʊn ðə ˈfəʊn/ [verb phrase]

to put the telephone down while someone is still speaking to you, because you are angry :

▪ Call her. The worst thing she could do is slam down the phone.

slam the phone down/slam down the phone on

▪ He tried to talk to her, but she slammed the phone down on him.

▷ get cut off/get disconnected /get ˌkʌt ˈɒf, get ˌdɪskəˈnektə̇d/ [verb phrase]

if you get cut off or get disconnected when you are making a telephone call, the telephone suddenly stops working in the middle of your conversation and you cannot continue :

▪ We got cut off in the middle of the conversation.

▪ I don’t know what happened, we just got disconnected.

▷ ring off /ˌrɪŋ ˈɒf/ [intransitive phrasal verb] British

to end a telephone call :

▪ I suppose I’d better ring off now -- we’ve been on the phone for over an hour.

8. when a telephone line is busy

▷ busy also engaged /ˈbɪzi, ɪnˈgeɪdʒd/ [adjective] British

a telephone line that is busy is already being used by the person that you want to telephone, so you cannot speak to them :

▪ She tried to call Lisa, but the phone was busy.

▪ I called Mom again, but it was still busy.

▪ He tried Nick’s suite again. This time the line was engaged.

▪ Janice’s number is still engaged. She’s been on the phone all morning.

engaged tone British /busy signal

American the sound a telephone makes when the person you are trying to call is already using the telephone

▪ I’ve been trying to call the customer helpline, but all I’m getting is a busy signal.

▷ on hold /ɒn ˈhəʊld/ [adverb]

waiting to speak to someone on the phone who cannot speak to you immediately because they are already speaking to someone else on the telephone :

▪ You’re always on hold for about 10 minutes before you get to talk to anyone.

put somebody on hold

▪ I put Dana on hold while I tried to find Steve.

9. when you want to leave a message for someone

▷ leave a message /ˌliːv ə ˈmesɪdʒ/ [verb phrase]

▪ No, she didn’t leave a message.

leave a message for

▪ Tom left a message for Mike on the answering machine.

▷ can/may I take a message? /ˌkæn, ˌmeɪ aɪ teɪk ə ˈmesɪdʒ/ [verb phrase] spoken

say this on the telephone when you are offering to give a message to someone else :

▪ I’m sorry, Mr. Perry isn’t in yet. May I take a message?

▷ text /tekst/ [transitive verb]

to send a written message from your mobile phone to someone else’s :

▪ My daughter spends nearly all her time either on the phone or texting her friends.

▪ Text me as soon as you get your exam results.

▷ voicemail /ˈvɔɪsmeɪl/ [uncountable noun]

a system on the phone by which you can leave a spoken message for someone :

▪ Hi Jen - I see I’ve reached your voicemail - I’ll try and get back to you later.

▪ I keep my voicemail on most mornings and deal with all my messages in the afternoon.

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