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Which One? Beckon Call or Beck and Call? Correct Writing Guide

Is it “beck and call?” Or “beckon call?” Continue reading to find out which is right: beck and call or beckon call. And how to correctly use the term in everyday life, writing, and more.

What does “beck and call” mean?

To be at a ‘someone’s beck and call’ means being readily available to assist them at a moment’s notice; or to immediately be at their service, command, or request.

The dictionary defines beck and call as “always ready to do whatever someone asks.”

The correct way to say and spell the phrase is beck and call. The phrase “beckon call” is incorrect spelling and doesn’t mean anything in English. That said, beckon call is a common misspelling of beck and call, so much so that it’s now considered an eggcorn.

“beck and call” getting used in a conversation.

Which is the correct phrase: beckon call or beck and call?

Here is the correct way to say “beck and call.”

✔️Correct: beck and call

❌ Incorrect: beckon call

What’s an Eggcorn?

The term eggcorn was coined by the linguist Mark Liberman in his Language Log in 2003. Liberman writes in his log, “A woman wrote ‘egg corns’ for ‘acorns.'”

In his attempt to identify this mistake under existing linguistic terms or phenomena, Liberman did not find a suitable phrase that captured the true meaning of eggcorn.

Fellow linguist Geoffrey Pullum suggested that the term should itself be called an eggcorn; since it is what it means (that’s to say: an eggcorn is itself an eggcorn, aka a mishearing of an original phrase that is commonly reproduced and mistaken by others.)

In 2010, eggcorn became an official word in the Oxford English Dictionary, meaning:

A word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one that sounds very similar or identical (e.g., tow the line instead of toe the line).Oxford English Dictionary, 2010.

“beck and call” getting used in a conversation.

“Beckon call” is an eggcorn

This makes ‘beckon call’ an eggcorn, since the correct spelling of the idiom is to ‘be at someone’s beck and call.’ Other examples of eggcorns include:

  • Escape goat instead of the correct term, scapegoat
  • Biting my time instead of biding my time.
  • Nipped it in the butt instead of nipped in the bud.
  • Mute point instead of moot point.
  • Last stitch effort instead of last ditch effort.
  • As dust fell instead of as dusk fell.
  • Got off scotch free instead of scot-free.

Examples of beck and call in a sentence

Each sentence below demonstrates how to use the expression beck and call.

  1. “He adored his wife and was constantly at her beck and call at a moment’s notice.”
  2. “It’s no wonder celebrities look good all the time; they have hairstylists and makeup professionals at their beck and call!”
  3. “Whenever you need anything, just let me know. I’m at your beck and call.”
  4. “The attending nurses at the hospital are incredible. They are at each patient’s beck and call.”
  5. “The king had every servant at his beck and call.”

Hopefully, these sentences using beck and call clarify their proper use cases!

“beck and call” getting used in a conversation.

Other ways to say beck and call

The following phrases, words, and idioms work as synonyms for beck and call:

  • To be wrapped around one’s finger
  • Under one’s thumb
  • In the saddle
  • All systems go
  • Champing at the bit
  • In the first position
  • Primed

The origin story of beck and call

The first known use of the term beck and call was written in a compendium of poems called Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail, God, King of the Jews) by the English poet (and the first woman ever to assert herself as a poet!) Aemilia Lanyer, in 1611. The excerpt below is Lanyer’s original use of the expression, which appears in her collection of poems mentioned above.

 How much are we to honor those that springs
 From such rare beauty, in the blood of Kings?
The Muses doe attend vpon your Throne,
With all the Artists at your becke and call;

Aemilia Lanyer, 1611

Definition of beck

The word beck is defined as “to make a mute sign, signal by a nod or gesture” and is a shortened version of the verb “beckon.”

Origin of the word beckon

The word beck originates from the Germanic and was passed down to Middle English from the Norse word bekkr. The word beck is related to the Dutch word beek.

Used in literature, the word beck can refer to a brook, such as a small stream with a stony bed.

Check out other commonly misused idioms

Is it foolproof or full proof? Not sure? The answer is foolproof. Read the foolproof method on how to use the term foolproof.

Bear with me or bare with me? Which is right? Bear with me while explaining the proper expression.


  1. Definition of eggcorn: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggcorn
  2. Definition of the word beck: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beck
  3. Definition of the idiom beck and call: webster.com/dictionary/beck


  1. beck | Etymology, origin and meaning of beck by etymonline
  2. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum
  3. Emilia Lanier – Wikipedia
  4. The 30 most misused phrases in the English language
  5. At someone’s beck and call – Merriam-Webster
  6. Mark Liberman’s Home Page – Penn Linguistics

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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