Wake-up call

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Wake-up call is an expression that has a literal and a figurative meaning. The figurative meaning is an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom wake-up call, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

The literal meaning of wake-up call is a phone call that the desk clerk makes to a person staying in a hotel or motel to wake him up. A traveler sometimes uses a wake-up call instead of an alarm clock, especially if he has an important appointment scheduled that he must not miss. The idiom wake-up call means an event that makes someone understand that something must change in his attitude or his life. For instance, if one develops an unrelenting cough, it may be a wake-up call to quit smoking. If one’s credit card bill is high, it may be a wake-up call to draw up a budget. The idiom wake-up call to mean an event that alerts one to the need for some sort of change or action came into use in the 1960s. The plural form of wake-up call is wake-up calls.


Another summer of flooding should be a wake-up call to redesign our communities (The Brookings Institution)

Central Park ‘Hercules’ is a heartfelt wake-up call for Disney (The New York Post)

Business group issues wake-up call on China’s corporate ‘social credit’ plan (Reuters)

The cross-continent debacle should serve as the rabbinate’s own wake-up call – both in Israel and in the Diaspora. (The Jerusalem Post)