The word ‘call’ can mean many different things. As a verb, the meaning is to shout or contact by phone.
- I’ve been calling your name for ages; didn’t you hear me? (shout)
- I called Liam but he didn’t answer. (contact by phone)
Call is a regular verb. The past tense and past participle is called.
idioms list with ‘call’
call a spade a spade – talk about something truthfully even if it’s not polite
e.g. Mickey calls a spade a spade. He’s a bit blunt but at least he’s honest.
call it a day – stop working on a job/task/relationship because you’re tired or it’s not working
e.g. Let’s work for another 15 minutes then we’ll call it a day.
call of nature – you need to go to the toilet
e.g. I need to answer a call of nature then I’ll be with you.
call off the dogs – stop someone behaving aggressively towards another person
e.g. Call off the dogs Harry. He’s apologised, let that be the end of it.
call/take the register – read out loud an official list of names
e.g. When the teacher calls the register, can you say ‘yes’ when he says my name?
call the shots – be in charge, make the decisions
e.g. Luke is in charge of the project. He’ll be calling the shots.
call the tune – be in control and make all the important decisions
e.g. Don’t ask me, I don’t call the tune around here.
call time on – end something
e.g. Barker has called time on his footballing career, he’ll retire at the end of the season.
pot calling the kettle black – a person criticises someone for doing something they also do
e.g. Pot calling the kettle black Lisa. You can’t tell me to stop smoking, you smoke.
too close to call – you can’t predict the outcome, it will be by a small margin
e.g. The election is too close to call, either of them 3 could win.
Let’s see these idioms with pictures and meaning using real-life scenarios.
Hey, did you know the verb ‘call’ has many phrasal verbs. Since you like idioms and phrases, you obviously want to improve your fluency and speak like a native.
Am I right?
I thought you might like to learn the phrasal verbs with ‘call’ too. They are very common in informal English and great to know/be able to understand if you happen to be speaking to a native. We use them all the time, like literally ALL the time.