A prank call is when someone calls a telephone line for the sole purpose of playing a prank or joke on the receiving end. The call is supposed to be anonymous and seen as funny for the prankster and slightly annoying for the user. Oftentimes it is associated with children or immature behavior.
The person making the telephone call is a prank caller.
A crank call is another name for prank call, though some make a differentiation between the two by saying a crank call is the name for a prank call made by someone who should know better.
The origins of crank call are unknown and neither phrase is consistently found in all dictionaries.
Prank call is the more preferred term, by a good margin.
ESPN 980 (WTEM-AM) in Washington, D.C. had planned to install a new radio show on March 16 featuring two personalities, one of whom had a history of criticizing Washington Redskins management, when the show’s debut was derailed by a few prank calls purporting to come from ESPN management. [Breitbart News]
Prank callers masquerading as Comcast representatives have reportedly found fresh victims on the company’s Twitter feed, phoning frustrated customers simply to insult them. [TIME]
A crank call from a young half-Caucasian woman to a photographer’s apartment sets off a chain of events that tragically affect the lives of total strangers. [The Japan Times]
Officials ultimately determined that the call was a hoax, just the latest “swatting” incident—a crime in which a crank caller falsely reports a terrible crime at the victim’s home—to befall a major celebrity. [Slate]