Definition of call in English:

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Pronunciation: /kɔːl/


1 [with object and complement] Give (a baby or animal) a specified name: they called their daughter Hannah
More example sentences
  • Daisy, as we called the goat, would hate to be separated from her lambs and it was woe betide any dog that came near them.
  • The winning name was provided by John from New Norfolk who suggested calling the bird ‘Reggie’.
  • They called the baby Joseph Patrick and he was christened in the Holy Family Church.
christen, baptize;
designate, style, term, dub, label, entitle
archaic clepe
rare denominate
(be called) answer to the name of, go by the name of
1.1 (be called) Have a specified name: her companion was called Ethel a book called Street Life in London
More example sentences
  • One of my favourite games is called Hangman.
  • What worked best for us was a book called Choosing Colours by Kevin McCloud, of Grand Designs fame.
  • The French system combining sports and studies is called "sport etude."
1.2Address or refer to (someone) by a specified name, title, etc. please call me Bob if he remains quiet she calls him a wimp
More example sentences
  • One hasn't bothered to learn my name and just calls me ‘Rooney’.
  • One of my co-workers still calls me the wrong name almost every time he sees me.
  • She and Dennis had talked around the checkout counter and she'd gotten Dennis's last name wrong, calling him Lewis, and it stuck for some reason.
1.3Refer to or consider (someone or something) as being: he’s the only person I would call a friend
More example sentences
  • Since then, he has entered what you might call a rough patch.
  • Whether it is what you might call professional misconduct may be another matter.
  • For five nights, we were on what you might call a floating hotel.
describe as, regard as, look on as, consider to be, judge to be, think of as, class as, categorize as
2 [with object] Cry out (a word or words): he heard an insistent voice calling his name Meredith was already calling out a greeting
More example sentences
  • Standing up, I cupped my hands around my mouth, raising my voice before calling out his name.
  • You might think I have a lot of nerve calling out this word.
  • He didn't hear the bright, girlish voice calling out his name again and again until his caller stood right before him.
2.1Cry out to (someone) in order to summon them or attract their attention: she heard Terry calling her [no object]: I distinctly heard you call
More example sentences
  • After all, she had managed well enough the previous night, and calling a servant may draw attention to her presence.
  • One afternoon in 1999, I was dozing when I heard my maternal grandmother calling me.
  • Rose could hear Laurie calling her, but she didn't turn back.
2.2 [no object] (Of an animal, especially a bird) make its characteristic cry: overhead, a skylark called
More example sentences
  • The birds kept calling as they shuffled about, and I tried my best to let the sound sink into my brain.
  • So next time the sun is shining and the birds are calling, go outside to broaden your exercise routine.
  • For one instant, he thought it was another monkey calling from one of the many trees nearby.
2.3Shout out or chant (the steps and figures) to people performing a square dance or country dance.
Example sentences
  • Listen to the music and of course, listen to the leader calling the steps.
  • The caller walks everyone through the dance moves, and continues calling the steps until they are familiar enough so that the dancers do not need to have them repeated.
  • The Squire leads the side and calls the figures of the dances from within the set.
2.4 Bridge Make (a particular bid) during the auction: her partner called 6♠
More example sentences
  • A bid can only be overcalled by calling a lower card of the same suit as the original bid.
  • Then the next player calls, and so on until all cards have been called.
  • Betting then commences in a poker style manner, until the bet has been called.
2.5North American informal Claim (a specified privilege) for oneself, typically by shouting out a particular word or set phrase: I call first dibs on the bathroom
More example sentences
  • Let the creative juices flow when you pick out your props; I call dibs on the unicorn horn.
  • To be honest, I'm stunned that Ned didn't call dibs first.
  • When we were picked for the same team, I was quick to call shortstop.
3 [with object] Contact or attempt to contact (a person or number) by phone: could I call you back? he called her on Monday but her phone was switched off the driver called 999
More example sentences
  • I have never met my father and finally called him on the telephone about two years ago for the first time.
  • To avoid giving himself away, he used public telephones and telephones at work to call the old couple.
  • And if that's not bad enough, now I've got telephone solicitors calling me for charity donations.
3.1Use a phone to summon (someone or something, especially an emergency service or a taxi): her husband called an ambulance
More example sentences
  • He went to a telephone box and called an ambulance.
  • He said the Essex Air Ambulance was called but was unable to attend.
  • The Welsh Air Ambulance was called to the scene, but was unable to land nearby because of woodland in the area.
summon, send for, ask for;
4 [with object] Order or request the attendance of: representatives of all three teams have been called to appear before the Monaco stewards I got a letter calling me for an interview
More example sentences
  • He was called before the committee, and questioned on his motivations for these dismissals.
  • Investigators called three people before a fact-finding grand jury two weeks ago.
  • This latest spat will be the third time London has called in the Spanish ambassador since the government was formed in 2011.
4.1Bring (a witness) into court to give evidence: four expert witnesses were called
More example sentences
  • He was a major player in the story put before the court but was not called as a witness.
  • In this case, the person to whom statements were made out of Court was not called as a witness.
  • Once the parties have responded, witnesses will be called to give evidence at public hearings likely to begin next month.
4.2Cause (someone) to have a strong urge to choose a particular way of life or career: he was called to the priesthood [with infinitive]: I think teachers, really good teachers, are called to teach
More example sentences
  • I was 19 years old when I first heard God calling me to religious life.
  • They have been called to be witnesses for God.
  • I personally find joy in the work I have been called to do.
5 [with object] Announce or decide that (an event, especially a meeting, election, or strike) is to happen: there appeared to be no alternative but to call a general election he called an emergency meeting to discuss the matter with councillors and residents the Allied forces called a ceasefire
More example sentences
  • No mass meetings have been called, and no strikes or industrial action have taken place.
  • Today's political leaders study long and hard which date to call a General Election.
  • The parish council chairman called a special public meeting on Tuesday night in the hall.
convene, summon, call together, order, assemble;
arrange, arrange a time/date for;
announce, declare
formal convoke
6 [no object] chiefly British (Of a person) pay a brief visit: I’ve got to call at the bank to get some cash he had promised Celia he would call in at the clinic do call round if you’re ever in the area
More example sentences
  • Indeed, Ray called around to us for a visit the Sunday before the dinner dance in Sligo.
  • You can call in at our home - you can phone first if you want an appointment.
  • And if you like, you can call in at the office on a Friday evening to hand in your timesheet, and you get a beer and some crisps.
pay a visit to, pay a brief visit to, visit, pay a call on, call in on, look in on
informal drop in on, drop by, stop by, pop into
6.1 (call at) (Of a train or coach) stop at (a specified station or stations) on a particular route: the 8.15 service to Paddington, calling at Reading
More example sentences
  • But rail users say any plans to stop trains calling at Oxenholme are unacceptable.
  • Regular trains to Leeds also call at some local stops such as Garforth and New Pudsey.
  • Now, no train calls at the station, which wears a deserted look.
7 [with object and complement] (Of an umpire or other official in a game) pronounce (a ball, stroke, etc.) to be the thing specified: the linesman called the ball wide
More example sentences
  • The umpire called the ball out.
  • To me, the worst thing in baseball is when the pitcher is scared to throw the ball over the plate, and then the umpire calls it a strike when it's a foot outside!
  • The ball went in and out of the seats in such a way that the umpire called it a double rather than a homer.
7.1 [with object] Cricket (Of an umpire) declare (a bowler) to have bowled a no-ball: he was called for throwing in the match against Hampshire
More example sentences
  • He would have got called for throwing 50 years ago and they wouldn't have changed the rules for him back then.
  • Jones was first called for throwing against England at Melbourne in 1897-8.
  • And they called bowlers for throwing as soon as the bending and straightening of the arm became obvious to the naked eye.
7.2 [with object] Predict the result of (a future event, especially an election or a vote): in the Midlands the race remains too close to call few pundits risked calling the election for either Bush or Kerry
More example sentences
  • Your votes are flooding in every day in their hundreds but, with many categories still too close to call, every vote really does count.
  • They are opposed by Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, making the final result of the vote too close to call.
  • This election is too close to call.
7.3 [with object] Guess (the outcome) of tossing a coin: Burnley called heads and won the toss [no object]: ‘You call,’ he said. ‘Heads or tails?’
More example sentences
  • The captain who calls correctly on the toss of a coin will decide whether it's league or union in the first half.
  • The captain was hoping for some luck with the toss, and after calling correctly he had no hesitation in reaching for his bowling boots.
  • But he never found out about what the best option to call during a toss is.
8 [with object] Computing Cause (a subroutine) to be executed: one subroutine may call another subroutine (or itself)
More example sentences
  • A unit test would directly call the subroutine I want to test, and it would rely as little as possible on other subroutines in the program.
  • Every time the subroutine calls itself, a few bytes are pushed on to the stack to store the return address.
  • Before you could call a subroutine, you had to calculate its address.


1A cry made as a summons or to attract someone’s attention: a nearby fisherman heard their calls for help in response to the call, a figure appeared
More example sentences
  • She ignored anybody else on the street, not paying attention to the calls she was getting.
  • The woman ran as the guys chased after her, yelling wild calls.
  • They were yelling, their calls reverberating down the hall.
cry, shout, yell, whoop, roar, scream, shriek;
informal holler
rare vociferation
1.1The characteristic cry of a bird or other animal: it is best distinguished by its call, a loud ‘pwit’
More example sentences
  • The place resounded with the calls of birds as they settled down for the night, even as people walked into the tastefully decorated frontyard.
  • But he was unable to photograph them, or even record the birds' calls.
  • The song of the mockingbird is actually a medley of the calls of many other birds.
cry, song, sound
1.2 [with modifier] A series of notes sounded on a brass instrument as a signal to do something: a bugle call to rise at 8.30
More example sentences
  • The bugle call sounded at retreat was first used in the French Army and dates back to the crusades.
  • Like any ex-civilian, raw recruit Elvis Presley, the king of rock 'n' roll will be keeping time to ordinary bugle calls.
  • His greatest music was made at a time of optimism in America, when the roar of the plains and the dissonant buzz of the cities still felt like the bugle calls of the new frontier.
1.3A direction in a square dance given by the caller.
Example sentences
  • Wilma said the calls make square dancing easy to learn.
  • Square dances, with many of the calls in French, also became popular in the twentieth century.
  • In traditional square dancing the timing of a call is fitted to the music.
1.4 Bridge A bid, response, or double: the alternative call of 2♠ would be quite unsound
More example sentences
  • In some schedules a solo is worth more if you bid it over a previous call of misère or piek.
  • Five and six are no longer available, as this player has already used all his opportunities for these calls.
  • Then betting commences with raises, calls and folds as usual.
2An instance of speaking to someone on the phone or attempting to contact someone by phone: I’ll give you a call at around five he stopped returning her calls a ten-minute call to the emergency services
More example sentences
  • In the case of international calls, communication from a computer to a telephone abroad is allowed.
  • Inmates are given phone cards to be used with conventional telephones and calls are monitored.
  • It is best to make such calls from public phones, using telephone cards.
phone call, telephone call;
British  ring
informal buzz
British informal bell, tinkle
3A brief visit, especially one made for social reasons: we paid a call on Ben and his family
More example sentences
  • Francis paid a call on his predecessor at a monastery on the Vatican's grounds to offer Christmas greetings.
  • He pays a call on his friend and we take off on a journey discovering the life of one of the most important British artists of modern times.
  • A routine delivery task turned into an adventure when she made a call on the village.
visit, social call
3.1A visit or journey made by a doctor or other professional in response to a request for help, especially in an emergency situtation: the ambulance is out on a call the district nurse for the local villages used to make her calls on a bicycle
More example sentences
  • At this time, all available vehicles were on other emergency calls and it was not possible to activate a crew.
  • Another element in the exercise will be an emergency call to Church island to attend to campers who are in difficulty.
  • She said that the nurse had been called away to another part of the home on an emergency call.
4An appeal or demand for something to happen or be done: the call for action was welcomed a call to all sides to remain calm and refrain from violence there are more and more calls on his time
More example sentences
  • He begins by discussing calls in the 1870s for reform of the property tax, the backbone of state and local finance.
  • There are also widespread calls here for our government to intervene and ‘cap’ prices in Ireland.
  • And calls are growing for the government to relax its anti-inflationary policies.
appeal, request, plea, entreaty;
demand, order, command
4.1 [mass noun, usually with negative] (call for) Demand, need, or reason for: there is little call for antique furniture there’s no call for secrecy anywhere in a free government
More example sentences
  • There's quite a good market for recycled tyre materials, but there's little call for recycled electronics waste.
  • We have no call for herbal or fruit tea around here.
  • At the secondary level there was hardly any call for history teaching.
need, necessity, occasion, reason, justification, grounds, excuse, pretext;
demand, desire, want, requirement, need;
5 [usually in singular] An order or request for someone to be present: he was delighted that so many former players had heeded the call to attend the conference
More example sentences
  • Christian faith teaches that such a call will not summon us to some vague eternity.
  • It was a shaking in the very depths of the earth, and it was a call to battle.
  • Once again, the United States and United Kingdom chose to heed the call to arms together.
summons, request
5.1A vocation: feeling the call to ministry, I started looking for a Bible college
More example sentences
  • From his first days as Pope he had a strong inner call to be a missionary.
  • Our call to be an informal educator involves commitments to growth and change.
  • She trained as an Infant School Teacher and it was while she was on a retreat for teachers that she felt the call to the religious life.
5.2A powerful force of attraction: walkers can’t resist the call of the Cairngorms
More example sentences
  • They could barely resist the call of the forbidden, and the urge was overpowering.
  • This government needs the guts to resist the call of the past, and govern for the future.
  • She accepted, but it was not long before the call of the great outdoors became irresistible once more.
attraction, appeal, lure, allure, allurement, fascination, seductiveness;
magic, beauty, spell, pull, draw
6(In sport) a decision or ruling made by an umpire or other official, traditionally conveyed by a shout, that the ball has gone out of play or that a rule has been breached: he was visibly irritated with the umpire’s calls
More example sentences
  • It's good for the game when bad calls can be corrected on the field.
  • In fact, according to coaches, officials are deciding games with reckless calls.
  • Some like to see the game played without many calls; some like to call the penalties.
6.1A decision, judgement, or prediction: personally, I’m all in favour, but it’s your call that entrepreneurial instinct may account for his ability to make tough calls when profits are at stake the two old foes are so evenly matched that it’s anyone’s call
More example sentences
  • Once you know what to look for, making the right call will start to come naturally.
  • They have to make a call in a split second.
  • Become fully informed consumers, knowledgeable enough to challenge doctors who make questionable diagnostic calls.
7 Computing A command to execute a subroutine: parameter values may be changed by calls to a special purpose input specification subroutine
More example sentences
  • One direct method to utilize the kernel is for a process to execute a system call.
  • That means, the call to a subroutine must be on its program line rather than somewhere in an expression.
  • To be safe you can use the keyword before any subroutine call even if the subroutine is already defined.
8 Finance A demand for payment of lent or unpaid capital.
Example sentences
  • Conceptually, an overdraft is repayable at call or on demand, whereas a loan is granted for a fixed period of time.
  • With potential bank losses barely covered by the European Stability Mechanism's 60 billion euros of bank rescue funds, what might happen when banks admit this can't continue, and loan losses trigger new capital calls?
  • The bank could issue the contingent capital component of its planned £7.8 billion capital call as early as this summer, according to debt bankers.
8.1 Stock Market short for call option.
Example sentences
  • By tracking the daily and weekly volume of puts and calls in the U.S. stock market, we can gauge the feelings of traders.
  • Put options should increase in value and calls should drop as the stock price falls.
  • The rule for creating synthetics is that the strike price and expiration date of the calls and puts must be identical.
9 [as modifier] US (In a bar, club, etc.) denoting or made with relatively expensive brands of alcohol which customers request by name. Compare with well2 (sense 4 of the noun). try wines by the glass for $5, beer for $3, and call drinks for $8
More example sentences
  • You can upgrade to call drinks for an additional $10.
  • Drinks are pricy for the area, but then I can't remember purchasing a call drink for $6 so I suppose $9-$10 is reasonable?
  • Some caterers will offer Jim Beam Bourbon as a house/well brand and Jack Daniel's as a call brand.



at call

another way of saying on call sense 2.

call attention to

Cause people to notice: he is seeking to call attention to himself by his crimes
More example sentences
  • Sleeveless, short or cap sleeves or tight sleeves call attention to, and display, the arms.
  • The way they sell new dictionaries is by calling attention to all the new words they've located.
  • I yelled out to call attention to what was going on (at the same time wondering how smart I was to get involved).

call someone's bluff

see bluff1.

call collect

North American Make a phone call reversing the charges.
Example sentences
  • You will also have your own phone from which long distance calls can be made by calling collect or using a charge card.
  • A prison social worker said that prisoners may call collect on pay telephones inside the prison.
  • They charge extra money to inmates who call collect to their families.

call something into (or in) question

Cast doubt on something: these findings call into question the legitimacy of the proceedings
More example sentences
  • Integrity is one of the cornerstones upon which reliable journalism is based, and, when it is called into question, we begin to doubt everything we read in newspapers and magazines and see on television.
  • It was the second time that her victory was called into question.
  • My honesty has been called into question and it has made me look like a criminal.
doubt, distrust, mistrust, suspect, lack confidence in, have doubts about, be suspicious of, have suspicions about, have misgivings about, feel uneasy about, feel apprehensive about, cast doubt on, query, question, challenge, dispute, have reservations about
archaic misdoubt

call it a day

see day.

call someone names

see name.

call of nature

see nature.

call the shots (or tune)

Take the initiative in deciding how something should be done: we believe in parents and teachers calling the shots
More example sentences
  • It's all about getting the initiative and being in a position to call the shots.
  • He quoted the proverb ‘He who pays the piper, calls the tune, ‘but noted, ‘I think we are very strong on the issue that they mustn't tell us what is good for us.
  • The taxpayer pays the piper, but the sponsor calls the tune.
be in charge, be in control, be in command, be the boss, be at the helm, be in the driving seat, be at the wheel, be in the saddle, pull the strings, hold the purse strings
informal run the show, rule the roost
British informal wear the trousers

call a spade a spade

see spade1.

call someone to account


call someone/thing to mind

Cause one to think of someone or something, especially through similarity: the still lifes call to mind certain of Cézanne’s works
More example sentences
  • At other points his guitar work briefly calls organs to mind.
  • It's not about these people, but there are things in it that call them to mind.
  • Her work conjures up such a non-factual set of moments that altered states, or dream states are called to mind.
evoke, put one in mind of, recall, bring to mind, call up, summon up, conjure up;
echo, allude to
[with negative]12.1 Remember someone or something: [with clause]: I cannot call to mind where I have seen you
More example sentences
  • Modest, common country garden perennial flowers, both of them, and I'm ashamed to say I simply cannot call their names to mind.
  • There's doubtless an equally irritating homily about spring-cleaning in the garden, too, but fortunately I can't call it to mind.
  • There's another old adage there, too, but I can't call it to mind just now.
remember, recall, recollect, think;
Scottish  mind
archaic bethink oneself of

call someone/thing to order

Ask those present at a meeting to be silent so that business may proceed: Randy McGill called the large gathering to order
More example sentences
  • He looked around the room to ensure all his key players were present, then called the meeting to order.
  • I remember nervously calling the meeting to order, wondering what our full day of dialogue would bring.
  • Imagine that the CEO of a major corporation has just called a meeting to order, and one of the board members makes a motion to discuss a proposed acquisition.

don't call us, we'll call you

informal Used as a dismissive way of saying that someone has not been successful in an audition or job application.
Example sentences
  • You can't walk five meters in a straight line… don't call us, we'll call you.
  • After the first audition there was a two-week period when it was a case of don't call us, we'll call you.
  • His e-mail read like a ‘thank you for your interest, but don't call us, we'll call you,’ form letter.

good call (or bad call)

informal Used to express approval (or criticism) of a person’s decision or suggestion: So you asked her to leave? Good call
With reference to decisions made by referees or umpires
More example sentences
  • The decision to keep interest rates unchanged looks like a good call.
  • He was very agitated and concerned, and on several occasions he said to me it was a very bad call and he obviously realised he had made a very significant error.
  • Medical staff deal with a constant flow of difficult decisions and, occasionally, they make what appears to be a bad call.

on call

1(Of a person) able to be contacted in order to provide a professional service if necessary, but not formally on duty: your local GP may be on call round the clock
More example sentences
  • There is an emergency ski patrol service on call 24 hours a day.
  • If a physical exam is to be done the physician on call will be contacted.
  • Top marks also to all who remained on duty, or on call, over the festive period.
on duty, on standby, standing by, ready, available
2(Of money lent) repayable on demand.
Example sentences
  • High cost options such as recalling the loan and converting a term loan to an on-call loan are less preferred choices.
  • Keep your loan on call and simply pay off the 3% minimum each month.

to call one's own

Used to describe something that one can genuinely feel belongs to one: I had not an item to call my own
More example sentences
  • The group desperately need premises to call their own, somewhere to store all their equipment, to have freedom of rehearsal times and a place to feel comfortable in.
  • On the most frigid day of this year, the restaurant overflows with penniless customers who make a cup of coffee last all day because they don't have a job to go to or a home to call their own.
  • The club is for the youth of the area and the youth group will endeavour to provide a safe environment for them, where they can have fun and a venue to call their own.

within call

Near enough to be summoned by calling: she moved into the guest room, within call of her father’s room
More example sentences
  • He had retired discreetly to the doorway, ready within call should Master need anything.
  • She might call for help if he attempted again as neighbors lived within call.
  • How many people may there be in London, who, if we had brought them deviously and blindfolded, to this street, fifty paces from the Station House, and within call of St. Giles's church, would know it for a not remote part of the city in which their lives are passed?

Phrasal verbs


call someone/thing down

1Cause or provoke someone or something to appear or occur: nothing called down the wrath of Nemesis quicker
More example sentences
  • For many of the villagers, if Allah can be called down into the human world, so can the spirits of the dead.
  • The murder of a stranger who entered somebody's house for shelter would call down the anger of the gods.
  • All I can think about is what a failure I am and that I am disobeying God and calling his wrath down on me.
2 dated Reprimand someone: he called down Clarence Drum about being so high and mighty
More example sentences
  • When she got carried away and started to show genuine anger and aggression, the Captain called her down.
  • Who do these holier-than-thou types think they are, calling me down?
  • When Joyce gets paranoid about his talent as a writer, he takes it out on Nora, throwing her past in her face and calling her down for being married before.

call for

1Make necessary: desperate times call for desperate measures
More example sentences
  • It does not necessarily call for a large investment to implement it.
  • Where safety calls for drastic measures such as bollards to be installed, then fixed bollards should be the method used.
  • Desperate times such as these call for the celebration of small victories such as this.
require, need, necessitate, make necessary, demand;
be grounds for, justify, warrant, be a justification/reason for;
involve, entail
2Publicly ask for or demand: the report calls for an audit of endangered species
More example sentences
  • The report calls for a dramatic restructuring of how aid is allotted in the region.
  • The report also called for more research on fluoride and the implications for child health.
  • It calls for the National Audit Office to conduct an urgent scrutiny of the value for money tests.
3chiefly British Stop to collect (someone) at the place where they are living or working: I’ll call for you around seven
More example sentences
  • I will call for you tonight at 6.30.
  • She was discovered by a neighbour who called for her on the way to Sunday Mass.
  • He had a friend call for him at his office and together they walked to the coffee house.
pick up, collect, fetch, go/come to get, come for
4North American Predict or describe (the likely weather conditions) for a period of time in the future: the forecast is calling for more rain they’re calling for temperatures in the 80s for the rest of the week
More example sentences
  • Egads … the weather forecast for Friday is calling for snow.
  • They're calling for a wintry mix, which should be just lovely!
  • The weather in Banff unexpectedly changed to warm, but the forecast is calling for cold and snow for the weekend.

call something forth

Elicit a specified response: few things call forth more compassion
More example sentences
  • Sometimes even the most harmless remark about America would call forth very sharp replies from him.
  • The rise of essentially trivial pastimes should not call forth a moral panic.
  • Her memory is astounding, calling forth an endless stream of anecdotes.

call someone in

Enlist someone’s aid or services: you can either do the work yourself or call in a local builder to help you
More example sentences
  • Experts from The Pigeon Control Advisory Service were called in two years ago and visited the town again just before Christmas.
  • The National Criminal Intelligence Service has been called in, along with a Metropolitan Police team specialising in tracking down fugitives.
  • Normally we are called in to provide an emergency service.

call something in

Require payment of a loan or promise of money: the bank would call in loans and foreign donations
More example sentences
  • Workers who took out preferential loans to buy cars will be badly hit if their loans are called in by the firm's liquidators.
  • Bolivia was told that if coca production didn't cease entirely by 2000, aid packages would stop and the loans would be called in.
  • Our losses were so high that our loans were called in.

call someone/thing off

Order a person or dog to stop attacking someone: Gunda pleaded with him to call the dog off
More example sentences
  • Its owners were watching my dog attack their horse, while I was trying to call her off.
  • She grabbed my throat, but before she could act further, the woman behind her called her off with a harsh, ‘Stop!’
  • ‘Call your dog off,’ Lucy said calmly.

call something off

Cancel an event or agreement: they held a ballot on whether to call off industrial action
More example sentences
  • An Army spokesman said that due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ the event had been called off indefinitely.
  • They were surprised to find that the strike had been called off and that an agreement had been struck supporting a two-tier wage.
  • Just four days before the event was due to take place the Village Business Association called it off.
cancel, abandon, shelve, scrap, drop, mothball
informal axe, scrub, scratch, nix
North American informal redline

call on

1Pay a visit to (someone): he’s planning to call on Katherine today
More example sentences
  • We were living in Switzerland, and Toni would call on us whenever he visited the country.
  • She also called on her legislator during her brief visit to capital.
  • Thereafter I made it a point to call on him on all my visits to Delhi.
visit, pay a visit to, pay a call on, go and see, look in on;
North American  visit with, go see
informal look up, drop in on, pop in on
2 (also call upon) Have recourse to: we are able to call on academic staff with a wide variety of expertise
More example sentences
  • Under the proposals, a senior nurse would then be able to call on more staff at short notice than is possible at present.
  • Schools that need a helping hand will be able to call on volunteers to help in their activities.
  • He will be able to call on the multinational forces, if he deems it necessary to have them deal with a problem.
have recourse to, avail oneself of, turn to, draw on, look to, make use of, use, utilize, bring into play
2.1 [with infinitive] Demand that (someone) do something: he called on the government to hold a vote
More example sentences
  • Now residents are calling on local representatives to demand that ramps should be installed on the road.
  • Farmers are urging the public to sign a petition calling on the Government to tighten controls on illegal imports.
  • She is calling on those in power to stop preaching hatred.
appeal to, ask, request, apply to, petition;
beg, implore, entreat, beseech, plead with

call someone out

1Summon someone to deal with an emergency or to do repairs: patients are to be told to stop calling doctors out unnecessarily at night
More example sentences
  • The cracks were discovered last month after the gas company was called out to deal with an emergency pipe leak.
  • The emergency doctor was called out at 2.15am.
  • Any time there was an emergency, Gus could be called out and his wife and daughters had to fend for themselves.
2Order or advise workers to strike.
Example sentences
  • ‘We'd have torn up our NUJ cards if they called us out on strike,’ said another.
  • Workers on London's Docklands Light Railway were called out on strike for 24 hours from 6.30 pm on March 25.
  • Unison members in colleges were in disbelief that they had not been called out alongside members of other unions.
3 (also call someone out on something, call someone on something) North American Draw critical attention to someone’s unacceptable actions or behaviour: people were calling him out for his negative comments Dan had called her out on a couple of contradictions in her story she called him on his claim that the media were doing a bad job of covering the economy
More example sentences
  • It's time for audiences to call them out on their hypocrisy and demand better representations of diversity.
  • You are the one that keeps twisting what you're saying whenever you are called out on it.
  • He essentially just called the team out for being lazy.
4 archaic Challenge someone to a duel.
Example sentences
  • When he is called out to fight a duel, Boris cannot pull the trigger.
  • Your princess was well within her rights to call him out to duel.
  • I'm pretty sure they each would have stepped up to the challenge if the other had called them out.

call something over

dated Read out a list of names to determine those present: a gentleman proceeded to call over the names of the jury
More example sentences
  • Charles Mansfield, our third lieutenant, came on deck, and called the list over.
  • In calling over the list every name is repeated, although three-fourths or more of the boys, whose names are called over, are present.
  • Under the new Act for regulating the trial of controverted elections, you will, in the discharge of your duty, call over the names in the alphabetical list of Members.

call someone up

1 informal, chiefly North American Phone someone: I have a list of people to call up in the morning
More example sentences
  • He stalks her, following her to the church where she does volunteer work, and even calls her up anonymously on the telephone.
  • A pollster selects a random sample of voters, calls them up on the telephone, and asks who the respondent would vote for if the election were being held today.
  • When I can't get my email, I call them up on the phone and they explain exactly what's wrong and when they expect it to be fixed.
phone, telephone, get on the phone to, get someone on the phone, dial, make/place a call to, get, reach;
British  ring up, ring, give someone a ring
informal call up, give someone a call, give someone a buzz, buzz
British informal give someone a bell, bell, give someone a tinkle, get on the blower to
North American informal get someone on the horn
phone, telephone, call, get on the phone to, get someone on the phone, dial, make/place a call to, get, reach;
British  ring up, ring, give someone a ring
informal give someone a call, give someone a buzz, buzz
British informal give someone a bell, bell, give someone a tinkle, get on the blower to
North American informal get someone on the horn
2Summon someone to serve in the army: they have called up more than 20,000 reservists
More example sentences
  • She was a member of the Territorial Army when she was called up to serve in the last conflict.
  • He was called up for the Army in 1939 and served in France during the war, and later in the Middle East.
  • His 19-year-old brother Aidan is also in the army and is currently waiting to see if he is called up to serve in the Gulf.
enlist, recruit, sign up;
US  draft
2.1Select someone to play in a team, especially at a higher level of competition: he was called up for the international against Turkey
More example sentences
  • After a stint in Hartford, he is called up to the big team.
  • Though she lost her debut matches, the tennis player hopes she will be called up to play for the senior team in the future.
  • ‘We called him up as the 17th player,’ the team manager said.
select, pick, choose;
British  cap
informal give someone the nod

call something up

Summon for use something that is stored or kept available: icons which allow you to call up a graphic
More example sentences
  • It predicts what data the program is going to need next and calls it up ahead of time, storing the received but as-yet-unrequired data in main memory.
  • Detailed maps can be called up on screens and geographical intelligence deployed to officers.
  • Its details are logged on a card which the user takes away and the horse's details can be called up to be raced when the card is inserted into a machine.
12.1Evoke something: the imaginative intensity with which he called up the Devon landscape
More example sentences
  • Nostalgia sells; people love to listen to music that calls those memories up.
  • The opening movement, for flute and strings, calls up the lonely hills.
  • ‘Home for the holidays’ is an often-used phrase this time of year, calling up images of friends and family gathered together to celebrate old traditions.


Late Old English ceallian, from Old Norse kalla 'summon loudly'.

  • Call appears in Late Old English from an Old Norse root, but recall ‘call back’ does not appear until the late 16th century. To call the shots or call the tune is to dictate how something should be done. Call the tune is a shortening of he who pays the piper calls the tune, only recorded from the late 19th century. Call the shots, not recorded before the 1920s, is from sports and games. In pool to call your shots is to say in advance which ball you intend to hit into which pocket. In target shooting it means to announce which part of the target you are going to hit; if someone else calls the shots you have to aim at the bit they choose.

Words that rhyme with call

all, appal (US appall), awl, Bacall, ball, bawl, befall, Bengal, brawl, caul, crawl, Donegal, drawl, drywall, enthral (US enthrall), fall, forestall, gall, Galle, Gaul, hall, haul, maul, miaul, miscall, Montreal, Naipaul, Nepal, orle, pall, Paul, pawl, Saul, schorl, scrawl, seawall, Senegal, shawl, small, sprawl, squall, stall, stonewall, tall, thrall, trawl, wall, waul, wherewithal, withal, yawl

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: call

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