Grammar 5 min read

Is it Beck and Call or Beckon Call? Which one is Correct?

Main Takeaways:

  • Beck and call is the correct spelling.
  • Beckon call is not misspelled, but it’s an improper way to write out this popular phrase.
  • The idiom “at your beck and call dates back to at least the 1800s, and beckon dates back even earlier.
  • At one point in history, beck and beckon meant the same thing (but not anymore).

Ahh, the age-old question: Is it beck and call or beckon call? We’re here to set the record straight. Join us on a deep dive into this commonly misused phrase and learn how to use it your writing correctly.

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How many eggcorns does it take to break a grammarian’s heart? For the uninitiated, eggcorns in grammar refer to words or phrases that sound like other words or phrases but are technically incorrect. They are fun, and they’re also everywhere.

All intensive purposes vs. All intents and purposes
Biting my time vs. Biding my time
Lesser of two equals vs. Lesser of two evils

And of course… beck and call vs. beckon call.

One is the correct way to discuss being of service to someone. The other phrase sounds a lot like bacon. But which is which?

Is it Beck and Call or Beckon Call?

While there are a lot of English phrases that can be a little tricky, this one is near the top of the list. Why? Simply because the wrong answer is still a real word. Unlike a lot vs. alot or separate vs. seperate, both beck and call and beckon call aren’t misspelled but rather confused. The correct phrase is beck and call, a shortened version of the idiom “be at someone’s beck and call.”

It means to act on someone’s command immediately. A butler may be at his employer’s beck and call. Imagine him ready to leap into service should the master of the house need his pantaloons pressed or his coffee poured. 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.

You may also see the phrase miswritten as “bekon call,” which is entirely incorrect.

beck and call or beckon call: When you're at someone's beck and call, you are ready to obey his/her orders anytime.
When you’re at someone’s beck and call, you are ready to obey his/her orders anytime.

Where Does the Phrase Beck and Call Come From?

To understand the meaning behind beck and call, we have to go all the way back to the late 1800s. At that time, it was common to use the word beck in place of beckon.” As for beckon, it appears to be much older, with similar words appearing in Old High German, Old Saxon, and Old Norse.

Originally, beck used to refer to a gesture. Somewhere around the 1400s, it evolved to include the action as well as the intent—signaling to someone that they should come over.

Definition of Beckon

Beckon is a verb that means to make a gesture, usually with the arm, head, or hand. This gesture is used 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.

How do you use Beck and Call in a Sentence?

Beck and call means to be at someone’s disposal. Someone who is at another person’s beck and call is always on standby. They’re ready to jump in at a moment’s notice to fulfill whatever request is made.
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.

Synonyms for Beck and Call

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, basically devoted to the person in charge or whoever holds the reins.

Instead of saying beck and call, you might use these words. Note that some of them will require reworking 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.

What About Beckon?

Remember, beckon really is a word; it’s just not the right word in this particular scenario.

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.

We hope this guide to beck and call or beckon call helped. What’s your favorite eggcorn?

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

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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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