Meaning of CALL in English

I. call 1 S1 W1 /kɔːl $ kɒːl/ BrE AmE verb

[ Date: 1100-1200 ; Language: Old Norse ; Origin: kalla ]

1 . TELEPHONE [intransitive and transitive] to telephone someone:

She calls her father every couple of days.

I’ll call you soon.

What time did Tony call?

call a doctor/the police/a cab etc (=telephone someone and ask them to come to you)

I think we should call a doctor.

I’m gonna call the cops!

► Do not say ‘call to someone’. Say call someone .

2 . DESCRIBE [transitive] to use a word or name to describe someone or something in a particular way

call somebody something

Are you calling me a liar?

You may call it harmless fun, but I call it pornography.

call somebody names (=use insulting names for someone)

The other kids used to call me names, but I tried to ignore them.

3 . HAVE A NAME [transitive] to have a particular name or title, or use a particular name or title for someone or something

be called something

Our son is called Matthew.

The arrow that appears on the screen is called a cursor.

call somebody something

My name’s Virginia, but my friends call me Ginny.

Do you want to be called Miss or Ms?

call somebody by something

I prefer to be called by my middle name.

4 . GIVE SOMEBODY/SOMETHING A NAME [transitive] especially British English to give someone or something the name they will be known by in the future SYN name American English :

What are you going to call the new puppy?

call somebody something

They’ve decided to call the baby Louise.

5 . ASK/ORDER BY SPEAKING [transitive] to ask or order someone to come to you

call somebody into/over/across etc

Peter called the waitress over and ordered a large brandy.

Marcie was called up to the principal’s office.

6 . ARRANGE [transitive] to arrange for something to happen at a particular time

call a meeting/strike/election etc

The Security Council has called an emergency session to discuss the crisis.

According to the law, the election must be called within the next two months.

7 . SAY/SHOUT [intransitive and transitive] to say or shout something loudly so that someone can hear you:

I heard someone calling in the distance.

‘I’m coming!’ she called down the stairs.

Sheila was just sneaking out when her mother called her.

She heard him call her name.

8 . call yourself something to say that you are a particular type of person, although you do nothing to show this is true:

How could Julian call himself a friend and then let me down so badly?

9 . call the shots/tune informal to be in a position of authority so that you can give orders and make decisions:

It was a job in which she was able to call the shots.

10 . call it a day informal to decide to stop working, especially because you have done enough or you are tired:

Come on, let’s call it a day and go home.

11 . call collect American English to make a telephone call that is paid for by the person who receives it SYN reverse the charges British English

12 . READ NAMES [transitive] ( also call out ) to read names or numbers in a loud voice in order to get someone’s attention:

When I call your name, go and stand in line.

13 . COURT [transitive usually passive] to tell someone that they must come to a law court or official committee

call somebody to do something

They were called to give evidence at the trial.

14 . call (something) into question to make people uncertain about whether something is right, good, or true:

I feel that my competence is being called into question here.

15 . be/feel called to do something to feel strongly that you should do something:

He felt called to write to all his fellow investors, warning them of the impending crisis.

16 . call somebody/something to order formal to tell people to obey the rules of a formal meeting

17 . VISIT [intransitive] ( also call round British English ) to stop at a house or other place for a short time to see someone or do something:

She called round for a chat.

call on somebody

Let’s call on James on the way home.

call (in) at something

I regularly called in at his office for news.

call into something

People often call into the library while they’re out shopping.

18 . call it £10/two hours etc spoken used to suggest a general figure rather than a more specific one, especially in order to make things simpler:

‘I owe you £10.20.’ ‘Oh, call it £10!’

19 . call it a draw if two opponents in a game call it a draw, they agree that neither of them has won ⇨ call it quits at ↑ quits (2)

20 . call it/things even spoken use this to say that someone who owes you something does not have to give you anything more than they have already given you

21 . call (sb’s) attention to

a) to ask people to pay attention to a particular subject or problem:

May I call your attention to item seven on the agenda?

b) to make someone notice someone or something:

I wanted to shout out to Ken, but I didn’t want to call attention to myself.

22 . call something to mind

a) to remind you of something:

Don’t those two call to mind the days when we were courting?

b) to remember something:

I couldn’t call to mind where I’d seen him before.

23 . call a huddle American English informal to make people come together to talk about something

24 . call time (on somebody/something) to say that it is time for something to finish or stop

25 . TRAINS/SHIPS [intransitive] if a train, ship, bus etc calls at a place, it stops there for a short time SYN stop :

This train calls at all stations to Broxbourne.

26 . COIN [intransitive and transitive] to guess which side of a coin will land upwards when it is thrown in the air, in order to decide who will play first in a game:

It’s your turn to call.

27 . CARD GAME [intransitive and transitive] to risk the same amount of money as the player who plays before you in a ↑ poker game

⇨ ↑ so-called , ⇨ call sb’s bluff at ↑ bluff 2 (2), ⇨ too close to call at ↑ close 2 (8)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for call for somebody/something Meaning 1)

■ call for + NOUN

▪ call for an end to something

Demonstrators have called for an end to the fighting.

▪ call for sb’s resignation

Opposition parties called for the President’s resignation.

▪ call for action

The European Parliament have called for action on age discrimination.

▪ call for a ban

French farmers have called for a ban on imports.

▪ call for a boycott

In 1980 he called for a boycott of the Olympic Games.

▪ call for a change

Scientists are calling for a change in the law.

▪ call for an inquiry/investigation

Relatives have called for an inquiry into the causes of the plane crash.

▪ call for a return to something

The Prime Minister called for a return to traditional Labour values.

▪ call for reform

The Church has called for reform of the law.

▪ call for the abolition of something

Human Rights groups have called for the abolition of the death penalty.

▪ call for a ceasefire (=for an end to a war)

The United Nations called for an immediate ceasefire.

• • •


▪ phone to speak to someone by telephone. Phone is more common in British English than American English:

I’ll phone you tomorrow.

▪ call to phone someone. Call is used in both British and American English:

One of the neighbors called the police.


Call me later.

▪ ring British English spoken to phone someone. Ring is more informal than phone or call :

I can ring her at the office tomorrow.

▪ give somebody a call ( also give somebody a ring ) spoken to phone someone:

If you ever come to Seattle, give me a call.


I’ll give the hospital a ring and see how he is.

▪ telephone formal to phone someone:

Angry listeners telephoned the BBC to complain.

▪ Skype /skaɪp/ trademark to make a telephone call using special software that allows you to make calls over the Internet:

I Skyped her last night and we spoke for hours.

call back phrasal verb

1 . call (somebody) back to telephone someone again, for example because they were not at home when you telephoned last time:

I’ll call back later.

Can you ask John to call me back when he gets in?

2 . British English to return to a place you went to earlier:

You could call back to collect her at noon.

call by phrasal verb

to stop and visit someone when you are near the place where they live or work:

I thought I’d call by and see how you were.

call down something phrasal verb

formal to ask for someone, especially a god, to make something unpleasant happen to someone or something

call down something on/upon

He called down vengeance on them.

call for somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . if a group of people call for something, they ask publicly for something to be done:

Human Rights groups are calling for the release of political prisoners.

2 . to need or deserve a particular type of behaviour or treatment:

Dealing with children who are so damaged calls for immense tact and sensitivity.

That kind of abuse is really not called for (=it is unnecessary and unwelcome) .

⇨ ↑ uncalled for

3 . British English to meet someone at their home in order to take them somewhere:

I’ll call for you at eight o'clock.

4 . American English to say that a particular kind of weather is likely to happen SYN predict :

The forecast calls for more rain.

call something ↔ forth phrasal verb

formal to produce a particular reaction:

Great works of classical music can often call forth a mixture of responses from the listener.

call in phrasal verb

1 . call somebody/something ↔ in to ask someone to come and help you with a difficult situation:

The government then called in troops to deal with the disturbances.

2 . to telephone somewhere, especially the place where you work, to tell them where you are, what you are doing etc:

Rachael called in sick (=telephoned to say she was too ill to come to work) .

3 . to telephone a radio or television show to give your opinion or to ask a question:

Over 2,000 viewers called in with complaints about the bad language used in the programme.

4 . call in a loan/debt to officially tell someone to pay back money you lent them:

The bank can call in the loan at any time.

5 . British English to visit a person or place while you are on your way to somewhere else

call in on/at

Could you call in on Mum on your way home?

call somebody/something ↔ off phrasal verb

1 . to decide that a planned event will not take place SYN cancel :

The trip to Italy might be called off.

2 . to officially decide that something should be stopped after it has already started:

Rescuers had to call off the search because of worsening weather conditions.

3 . to order an animal or person to stop attacking or threatening someone:

Call your dog off.

call on/upon somebody/something phrasal verb

1 . to formally ask someone to do something

call on somebody to do something

The UN has called on both sides to observe the ceasefire.

2 . to visit someone for a short time:

Why don’t you call on my sister when you’re in Brighton?

call out phrasal verb

1 . to say something loudly

call something ↔ out

‘Hi there!’ I called out.

call out to

The firemen called out to him.

2 . call somebody ↔ out to ask or order a person or an organization to help, especially in a difficult or dangerous situation:

The army was called out to help fight fires.

3 . call somebody/something ↔ out British English to order workers to go on ↑ strike :

The transport workers were called out.

call up phrasal verb

1 . especially American English informal to telephone someone

call somebody ↔ up

He called me up to tell me about it.

I’m going to call up and cancel my subscription.

2 . call something ↔ up if you call up information on a computer, you make the computer show it to you:

I called up their website, but it didn’t have the information I was looking for.

3 . call somebody ↔ up British English to officially order someone to join the army, navy, or air force SYN draft American English :

I was called up three months after war broke out.

4 . call somebody ↔ up to choose someone for a national sports team ⇨ call-up :

Hurst was called up for the game against Mexico.

5 . call something ↔ up to produce something or make it appear:

She can call up the spirits of the dead.

II. call 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE noun

1 . TELEPHONE [countable] when you speak to someone on the telephone

call for

Were there any phone calls for me while I was out?

call from

I received a call from an old friend last week.

It’s cheaper to make calls after 6 pm.

I’ll give you a call at the weekend.

2 . be on call if someone such as a doctor or engineer is on call, they are ready to go and help whenever they are needed as part of their job:

Don’t worry, there’s a doctor on call 24 hours a day.

3 . SHOUT/CRY [countable]

a) a loud sound that a bird or animal makes SYN cry

call of

the call of an owl

b) a shout that you make to get someone’s attention

4 . VISIT [countable] a visit, especially for a particular reason:

Sorry, Doctor Pugh is out on a call at the moment.

pay/make a call (on somebody) (=visit someone)

5 . REQUEST/ORDER [countable] a request or order for something or for someone to do something:

Members obediently answered the calls for funds.

call for somebody to do something

There have been calls for the secretary to resign.

a call to arms (=an order for people to fight against an enemy)


a) [countable] the decision made by a ↑ referee in a sports game

make a good/bad call

There may have been a few bad calls, but they’re making them for a reason.

b) [singular] informal a decision:

Don’t just say what you think I would like. It’s your call.

make a call (=decide something)

an easy/hard call (=an easy or difficult decision)

judgement call (=a decision based on your personal judgement of a situation)

7 . there isn’t much call for something used for saying that not many people want a particular thing:

There isn’t much call for black and white televisions these days.

8 . there is no call for something spoken used to tell someone that their behaviour is wrong and unnecessary:

There’s no call for that kind of language!

9 . AT AN AIRPORT [countable] a message announced at an airport that a particular plane will soon leave:

This is the last call for flight BA872 to Moscow.

10 . have first call on something

a) to have the right to be the first person to use something

b) to be the first person that you will help because they are important to you:

Her children had first call on her time.

11 . the call of something literary the power that a place or way of life has to attract someone:

the call of the sea

12 . the call of nature a need to ↑ urinate (=pass liquid from your body) – used especially humorously

⇨ be at sb’s beck and call at ↑ beck (1), ⇨ ↑ port of call , ↑ roll-call , ↑ wake-up call

• • •


■ verbs

▪ make a call

He made a few calls and then went out.

▪ give somebody a call (=phone someone)

I’ll give him a call later today.

▪ get/have a call ( also receive a call formal )

At 11 in the evening we got a call from the police.

▪ there is/was a call

There was a phone call for you.

▪ answer a call

We’re sorry that we cannot answer your call right now.

▪ take a call (=answer one)

Monica took the call upstairs.

▪ return sb’s call (=call someone after they have tried to call you)

I left a message for her but she didn’t return my call.

▪ expect a call

She’s expecting a phone call from Matt.

▪ transfer a call (=connect one to another person’s phone)

The call was transferred to his secretary.

▪ put through a call (=transfer or make one)

She asked the switchboard to put the call through.


▪ a phone/telephone call

I had a phone call from Barbara in Australia.

▪ a quick call

This is just a quick call to make sure you’re OK.

▪ a local call

Local calls are free at weekends.

▪ a long-distance call

I’d like to make a long-distance call.

▪ an international call

▪ a collect call American English (=one paid for by the person who receives it)

Can I make a collect call to Florida, please?

▪ incoming/outgoing calls (=coming into or going out of a place)

You have to dial 9 first to make an outgoing call.

▪ an emergency call (=to the police, fire service, or ambulance service)

The police normally respond immediately to an emergency call.

▪ a hoax call (=one intended to trick someone)

They received a hoax call warning of a bomb in the building.

▪ an anonymous call (=in which the caller does not give their name)

The £10,000 demand was made in an anonymous call to his home.

▪ a crank call (=made by someone you do not know, as a joke or to annoy you)

The heavy breathing sounded like a crank call.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.