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Idioms, Cliches, and Slang
Call of Duty
The Difference Between

Is the saying Beckon call or beck and call?


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April 07, 2011 10:07PM
  • You can be said to be at someones beck and call. Sounds like more of that old British saying.
  • The term "beck and call" used in a sentence is "Sue has her husband running at her beck and call." Beck is a short term for "Becoming" (summoning someone to you as if by order) and call means to call out or demand. In other words the person who has people coming to their "beck and call" is in control.
  • "Beckon call" is incorrect. "... at someones beck and call" is correct. Beckon is a verb, not an adjective. "Beck" is a noun. "To beckon" is like "to call" or "to summon". "Beck" is like "call" or "summon".
  • First, the fact that the word "beckon" is older than it's abbreviation "beck" is irrelevant. The correct term is "beck and call." "*Beckon call" is a mishearing of the correct term. This is born out by a simple trip to any dictionary. Fabricated stories about "servient" gestures aside, the term "beck and call" is the only correct term. That said, the first answer is also incorrect. The term "beck" does not come from a shortening of "become." Rather, as stated, it is a shortening of "beckon," from the old English "becnan." Nonetheless, its use in the idiomatic "beck and call" stems from the middle English, and was not in use prior. All of this is easily confirmed by consulting a dictionary. One might also be well-served looking up the definition of the word "apprehension" as well.

More simply stated a "beck" is a silent summoning, as in a nod or other gesture or a beacon, and a "call" is a sounded summoning, as in a shout or other type of oral command or a bugle or drum.

"Although the word 'beck' used outside of 'beck and call' is archaic and rarely heard today, it's really only a shortened form of our familiar word 'beckon,' meaning 'to make a mute signal or gesture,' especially to call a person over to you. 'Beckon,' in turn, comes from an old Germanic word meaning 'signal,' from which we also derive the modern English word 'beacon.'

"As a verb, 'beck' first appeared around 1300 A.D. ('beckon' is a bit older, first showing up around 950). The phrase 'beck and call' is much more recent, dating only to about 1875."


I use this site often and this is my first time making a comment but I reluctantly think both above answers are wrong. I cannot back up my answer with theory and history as the previous people have done nor do I have time. I always thought it is most correct to say that, for example: I will be at your "BECKONED CALL". I welcome any of you grammar guru's to judge my answer. For now I will stick with my answer but will keep an open mind until I get a better explanation. Thanks!