Grammar 6 min read

?Why it's Beck and Call, not Beckon Call

Main Beck and Call Takeaways:

  • Beck and call is the correct way to write this phrase, not beckon call.
  • The idiom “at your beck and call dates back to at least the 1800s. The verb beckon dates back even earlier.
  • At one point in history, beck and beckon meant the same thing (but not anymore).
  • The confusion stems from the fact that beckon sounds like beck and in the phrase beck and call.
He is so infatuated with her that he is practically at her beckon call.
He is so infatuated with her that he is practically at her beck and call.
The mermaid beckoned to the sailor as she sang an enchanting melody.

Avoid looking like a fool with this quick and easy guide. We’ll show you exactly how to use the verb beckon and the idiom at your beck and call in your writing. We’ll also give you alternatives and the best examples of how to use this phrase.

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A butler running toward his employer who's ringing a bell. To be at someone's beck and call.
When you’re at someone’s beck and call, you are ready to obey his/her orders anytime.

Is it Beck and Call or Beckon Call?

The idiom to be at someone’s beck and call means to act on someone’s command immediately or to be at someone’s disposal. Someone who is at another person’s beck and call is always on standby. They are ready to jump in at a moment’s notice to fulfill whatever request. For this reason, the phrase can have a negative connotation or refer to an unequal power dynamic. It often refers to servitude or to subservient behavior.

Beckon call is an eggcorn, or the grammatical term for words/phrases that sound like other words/phrases but are technically incorrect.

How do you use Beck and Call in a Sentence?

Here are the best examples of how to use Beck and Call in a Sentence:

As he checked in the newlyweds, the concierge reminded the happy couple that he was at their beck and call 24/7.
Until you’re 100% healed, I’ll be right here, at your beck and call.
Having her boyfriend at her beck and call meant she never had to lift a finger.
Our aunt loves this restaurant because the staff is at her beck and call.
With his little sister at his beck and call, he completed the chores in no time.
The butler was at his employer’s beck and call.
The servers at a Michelin-star restaurant are at each patron’s beck and call, delivering every little desire the moment it’s asked for.

Synonyms for Beck and Call

Since some of these alternatives are part of other idioms, they may require you to rework the sentence slightly:

  • Devoted
  • Dutiful
  • Subservient
  • Command
  • At the disposal of
She was at the CEO’s beck and call.
As the new assistant, she was devoted to the CEO’s needs.
She was at the CEO’s command.
As the new assistant, she was always at the disposal of the CEO.

All the synonyms for beck and call relate back to the idea that being at someone’s beck and call is like being a servant. You’re always available, ready and willing to complete any task.

A woman gesturing for the little girl to come near her. To beckon means to gesture for someone to come near you.
When you signal to someone to come over to you, you’re beckoning to that person.

Where Does Beck and Call Come From?

The correct idiom is to be at someone’s beck and call. It means to be completely subservient to someone else, or serve at someone’s whim. The phrase comes from the late 1800s. During this period, beck and beckon meant the same thing. As a result, contemporary speakers used beck in place of beckon, and the phrase stuck.

What Does Beck Mean in Beck and Call?

Originally, beck may have been used as a noun to refer to a gesture. For instance, a wave would have been an example of a beck. However, around the 1400s, the word evolved to include the action as well as the intent. What’s more, by the late 1800s, it was common to use the word beck in place of beckon. For this reason, in the phrase beck and call, beck is a synonym for beckon. As for beckon, it appears to be much older, with similar words appearing in Old High German, Old Saxon, and Old Norse. While beck and beckon used to mean the same thing, they don’t anymore.

What About Beckon?

Beckon is a verb that means to make a gesture, usually with the arm, head, or hand. Therefore, use this gesture to encourage someone to come closer or follow along.

He saw her beckon him toward her seat on the bench.
Anita waved across the grocery store, beckoning her friend over to see what she had found.

In other forms, beckon can also refer to an inanimate object or environment that’s appealing or inviting.

With its soft lighting and plush fabrics, the bedroom beckoned to sleepy travelers.
Las Vegas beckons to gamblers eager for bright lights and a big win.

Moreover, use beckon if you want to call over someone or describe how tempting or delightful something is. Other forms, like beckoned and beckoning, are also quite useful.

He watched her beckon the waiter to come over and knew she was going to say something about the fly in her soup.
Colorful, peaceful, and full of promise, the tree-covered hills of the Berkshires beckoned.
She could practically hear the crab legs beckoning to her, and her stomach growled in response.
Beckon really is a word. It’s just not the right word in the phrase beck and call.

Is it Beckon Call or Beck and Call?

Beckon Question #1

“To beckon” means you're encouraging a person to come closer.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. “Beckon” is a verb that means to make a gesture, usually with the arm, head, or hand.

Beck and Call Question #2

“Beck and call” and “beckon” have the same meaning.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. “Beck and call” means to be at someone's disposal, while "beckon" means to call someone over.

Beck and Call Question #3

Select the grammatically correct sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. The sentence implies that Jane is ready to fulfill whatever request the committee makes.

Beckon Call Question #4

Select the grammatically correct sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. The sentence implies that the sirens encouraged the sailors to come closer with their music.

Beck and Call Question #5

Which of these is NOT a synonym for “beck and call”?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. “Beckon” is not a synonym for beck and call.

Read More: I.E. Vs. E.G.: What They Mean And How To Use Them

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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