v. called, call·ing, calls
1. To say in a loud voice; announce: called my name from across the street; calling out numbers.
2. To demand or ask for the presence of: called the children to dinner; call the police.
3. To demand or ask for a meeting of; convene or convoke: call the legislature into session.
4. To order or request to undertake a particular activity or work; summon: She was called for jury duty. He was called to the priesthood.
5. To give the command for; order: call a work stoppage.
a. To communicate or try to communicate with by telephone: called me at nine.
b. To dial (a telephone number): call 911 for help.
7. To lure (prey) by imitating the characteristic cry of an animal: call ducks.
8. To cause to come to the mind or to attention: a story that calls to mind an incident in my youth.
9. To name: What will you call the baby?
10. To consider or regard as being of a particular type or kind; characterize: Let's call the game a draw. I'd hardly call him a good manager.
11. To designate; label: Nobody calls me a liar.
a. To demand payment of: call a loan.
b. To require the presentation of (a bond) for redemption before maturity.
c. To force the sale of (a stock or commodity) by exercising a call option.
a. To stop or postpone (a game) because of bad weather, darkness, or other adverse conditions.
b. To declare in the capacity of an umpire or referee: call a runner out; call a penalty for holding.
c. To indicate a decision in regard to: calling balls and strikes; called a close play at home plate.
d. To give the orders or signals for: a quarterback who called a poor play.
a. To describe the intended outcome of (one's billiard shot) before playing.
b. In poker, to place a bet equal to (the preceding bet or bettor).
15. To indicate or characterize accurately in advance; predict: It is often difficult to call the outcome of an election. See Synonyms at predict.
16. To challenge the truthfulness or genuineness of: called the debater on a question of fact.
17. To shout directions in rhythm for (a square dance).
a. To speak loudly; shout: a swimmer who was calling for help.
b. To utter a characteristic cry. Used of an animal: geese calling in the early morning.
2. To communicate or try to communicate with someone by telephone: I called twice, but no one answered.
3. To pay a short visit: We called to pay our respects. He called on the neighbors but they weren't home.
4. Games In poker, to place a bet equal to the preceding bet.
1. A loud cry; a shout.
a. The characteristic cry of an animal.
b. A sound or an instrument made to imitate such a cry, used as a lure: a moose call.
3. A telephone communication or connection.
4. Need or occasion: There was no call for an apology.
5. Demand: There isn't much call for buggy whips today.
6. A claim on a person's time or life: the call of duty.
7. A short visit, especially one made as a formality or for business or professional purposes.
8. A summons or invitation.
a. A signal, such as that made by a horn or bell.
b. The sounding of a horn to encourage hounds during a hunt.
a. A strong inner urge or prompting; a vocation: a call to the priesthood.
b. The strong attraction or appeal of a given activity or environment: the call of the wild; answered the call of the desert.
11. A roll call.
12. A notice of rehearsal times posted in a theater.
a. A decision made by an umpire or referee.
b. An announced description of a game or race, as by a sportscaster.
14. A direction or series of directions rhythmically called out to square dancers.
a. A demand for payment of a debt.
b. A demand to submit bonds to the issuer for redemption before the maturity date.
c. An option to buy a certain quantity of a stock or commodity for a specified price within a specified time.
d. A demand for payment due on stock bought on margin when the value has shrunk.
1. To communicate the need for (someone) to return from one situation or location to a previous one: Management called the laid-off workers back.
2. To request (someone) to come in for an audition after an initial audition: The director auditioned six singers for the part and called two back.
3. To telephone or radio (a person) who has called previously: I called her back at noon.
4. To recall (a defective product) for repair: The company has called back all such models built in 1990.
1. To find fault with; reprimand: The teacher called me down for disobedience.
2. To invoke, as from heaven.
1. To appear, as on someone else's premises, in order to get: My chauffeur will call for you at seven.
2. To be an appropriate occasion for: This news calls for champagne.
3. To require; demand: work that calls for patience.
To evoke; elicit: a love song that calls forth sad memories.
1. To take out of circulation: calling in silver dollars.
2. To summon for assistance or consultation: call in a specialist.
3. To communicate with another by telephone: Has the boss called in today?
1. To cancel or postpone: call off a trip; called the trip off.
2. To restrain or recall: Call off your dogs.
To order or request to undertake a particular activity: called on our friends to help.
1. To order or request to assemble or arrive somewhere; summon: call out the guard.
2. To challenge to a duel.
3. To set off or direct attention to, as in being commendable or of interest: The article calls out the new features of the software in a sidebar.
1. To summon to active military service: called up reserve troops for active duty.
2. To cause one to remember; bring to mind: stories that call up old times.
3. To bring forth for action or discussion; raise.
1. To order; require: I call upon you to tell the truth.
2. To make a demand or a series of demands on: Social institutions are now being called upon to provide assistance to the homeless.
call in/into question
To raise doubts about.
call it a day Informal
To stop what one has been doing, for the remainder of the day or at least for the present.
call it a night Informal
To stop what one has been doing, for the remainder of the night.
call it quits Informal
To stop working or trying; quit.
To speak to or about another in offensive terms.
call of nature
A need to urinate or defecate. Often used with answer: He left the room to answer the call of nature.
call (someone's) bluff
To demand proof for or respond in a challenging way to the claims or threats of another that one presumes to be false.
call the shots/tune Informal
To exercise authority; be in charge.
1. Available when summoned for service or use: physicians who were on call for 48 hours.
2. Subject to payment on demand.
Close enough to come if summoned: The nurse is within call if you need him.
[Middle English callen, probably from Old Norse kalla; see gal- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: call, assemble, convene, convoke, muster, summon
These verbs mean to demand or request to appear, come, or gather: called a meeting; assembled the troops; convened a panel of experts; will convoke the legislature; mustering the militia; summoned a group of investors.
Our Living Language African American Vernacular English uses call oneself with a present participle, as in They call themselves dancing, to express the idea that the people being talked about are not very good at what they're doing (in this case, dancing), even though they may think they are. This construction has a structure and meaning similar to the Standard English use of call oneself with a noun phrase or adjective, as in He calls himself a dancer or She calls herself intelligent.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.