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Beck and call vs beckon call

There is some confusion as to whether the term beck and call or the term beckon call is correct. We will discover which of these phrases is correct, the definition and origin of the term and some examples of its use in sentences.

To be at someone’s beck and call means to be available to serve someone at a moment’s notice, it is a subservient position. Beck and call is the correct rendering of the term, beckon call is an eggcorn, or a mishearing of the original word or phrase. The word beck is indeed related to the word beckon, it came into use in the 1300s. However, beck is a fossil word, which is a word that is no longer used in general English but survives in very specific idioms or phrases. The first known use of the term beck and call was published in a compendium of poems called Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, written by Aemilia Lanyer in 1611. Remember, to say that one is at someone’s beck and call is a slight insult, the term carries a connotation of subservience and lower status.


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Examples

A tenant in an east-side apartment complex was cussed at and threatened by an elderly woman—possibly a neighbor—who bragged of having a squad of “hoodlums” at her beck and call, according to a Pima County Sheriff’s Department report. (The Tuscon Weekly)

Outside, allegations and rumors are spreading so uncontrollably that Park is being portrayed as nothing but an avatar president controlled at the beck and call of Choi, and lets Choi exercise unlimited influence on state affairs, even including foreign affairs and national defense, as well as economic policy. (The Korea Times)

 

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