If you want to use an idiomatic phrase correctly, you’ll need to know how to use them correctly. Back in one of our previous articles, we talked about the English phrase end all be all, which means something of utmost importance.
Today, we’re going to look at another idiom. Even though this is a phrase in the English language that you don’t hear every day, you need to at least know the correct way to say it.
The idiomatic expression we’ll be checking out is beck and call.
What Does Beck and Call Mean?
This phrase carries different meanings:
- Ready to do tasks for someone right away when demanded
- Being available to a person when needed
- Making one’s self available immediately on the request of another person
- To respond immediately when called upon by a specific individual
If you are at someone’s beck and call, it means that you are the dutiful type of person who is ready to react to their comments without delay. This idiomatic phrase may sometimes carry a whiff of disapproval. Individuals often use beck and call when the commands or requests seem unreasonable or overly entitled.
The Origin of Beck and Call
The word call in beck and call has its usual meaning.
Beck, on the other hand, is a more interesting term. Although the word has been in use in the English language since the 14th century, it’s not one found outside the idiom beck and call these days. This is merely a shortened form of beckon, a verb that means, “To make a gesture with the head, arm or hand to encourage an individual to follow or come nearer.” Beckon can also mean to signal silently, indicating a command or request.
If the phrase beck and call had originated before the 14th century, people today would presumably now say beckon and call. This didn’t become popular, though.
One of the first recorded uses of this idiom was in “Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum,” a volume of poems published by Aemilia Lanyer dating all the way back to 1611. One of the lines mentions artists being at someone’s beck and call.
Beck and Call or Beckon Call: Which is Correct?
What brings beck and call to the attention of etymologists is the confusion that some individuals have between it and beckon call.
The supposed phrase is a clear example of an eggcorn, a grammatical term for phrases or words that sound like other words or phrases but are technically not correct. Besides beckon call, a famous example of an eggcorn is the popular phrase bare with me, which we’ve tackled in our article.
How to Remember the Difference
When thinking of beck and call, remember that this is the only correct spelling. Beckon call is not the right phrase, even if you come across it on the web.
Beckon, by itself, is a colorful verb. It has the potential to make your writing more interesting if you use it intentionally and correctly.
Just make sure that you do not add the word call next to beckon. Please remember that these words essentially mean the same thing. Using both beckon and call in the same phrase is redundant. You can, however, use beck and call (just drop the on in beckon and you’re already good to go).
How to Use Beck and Call in a Sentence
A great way to master the proper use of beck and call is to read them aloud in a sentence. Here are some examples for your guidance:
- The butler was at his master’s beck and call.
- Don’t worry, I’ll be right here, at your beck and call, until you are 100 percent healed.
- As Martin the concierge manager checked in the newlyweds, he told the couple that he was at their beck and call 24/7.
- He finished all the assigned household chores in no time thanks to his little cousin at his beck and call.
- Our uncle loves this store. The staff is at his beck and call.
- Amazon’s Alexa, the incredible virtual assistant AI technology that powers the Amazon Echo, allows you to take a step toward being able to place a device at your verbal beck and call.
- I spend approximately $1,000 every single month living luxuriously, with Uber at my beck and call, and as much tequila and tacos as I want.
What is Another Word for Beck and Call?
If you are using beck and call a bit too much in your writing, you could use synonyms. Take note, though, that some of these options are part of other idiomatic expressions. You may need to reword the sentence or statement slightly to make sense.
Synonyms for beck and call include:
- At the disposal of (or at your disposal)
- Devoted to
We hope this guide will prevent you from saying or writing beckon call.
Remember that the correct idiom is beck and call. Let’s hope that beckon call dies a natural death, as the term is a spelling mistake.