Beck and call


      • obedience
        Being at someone's constant disposal, always ready and willing to fulfill their every request or command

      • dependence
        Relying on someone else to make decisions and guide one's actions, often to the point of losing independence and autonomy

    Examples of Beck and call

    • The supervisor kept his assistant on beck and call, expecting her to answer his calls and emails instantly.

      In this idiomatic usage, 'beck' refers to summoning someone using hand gestures, and 'call' refers to a verbal request. When used together, 'beck and call' is used for people who are highly responsive to requests, such as assistants who are expected to be available at all times to serve their employers or superiors.

    • The wealthy businessman's wife was used to being in beck and call during their marriage, expecting him to fulfill her every whim.

      Here, the context changes to a marital relationship where the husband is the one making requests, and the wife is expected to be at his beck and call to meet his demands.

    • The politician maintained a tight grip on his party members, making them available on beck and call for his political campaigns.

      In this example, 'beck and call' is used for people who are highly subservient to their leaders or superiors, expected to be readily available for their political or organizational needs.

    • The parents kept their children on beck and call, expecting them to be present at every family function without fail.

      This idiomatic usage is a literal interpretation of 'beck and call', implying that the children are summoned verbally or through gestures to fulfill their parent's requests.

    • The traffic police kept the commuters on beck and call during the peak hours, directing them to move to the left lane to avoid congestion.

      In this figurative usage, 'beck and call' is used to convey that the police officers are highly in-charge during peak traffic hours and direct the commuters to follow their orders to avoid congestion.


    The idiom "beck and call" is used to describe a relationship of obedience and dependence, where one person is always available and subservient to another. It conveys a sense of power dynamics, where one person holds all the control and the other is expected to follow their every whim. This phrase can be used in both positive and negative contexts, depending on the relationship between the two individuals.

    In a positive sense, being at someone's beck and call can show loyalty and dedication. It can be used to describe a strong bond between two people, where one is always there for the other. However, in a negative sense, it can imply a lack of agency and independence for the person who is constantly at someone's beck and call. It can also imply that the person being obeyed is manipulative or controlling, taking advantage of the other person's willingness to please.

    Origin of "Beck and call"

    The idiom "beck and call" has its roots in Old English, where it was used as "beck and call" or "beck and call." The word "beck" referred to a gesture or movement of the head, often used as a signal or command. "Call" referred to a summons or request. Together, these words conveyed the idea of being summoned or commanded by a gesture or call. Over time, the phrase evolved to its current form, "beck and call."

    The origin of the phrase can be traced back to the 16th century, where servants were expected to be at their master's beck and call, ready to fulfill any request at a moment's notice. This phrase was also commonly used in literature and plays during the Elizabethan era, further solidifying its meaning in the English language. Today, the idiom is still used to describe a relationship of obedience and dependence, although it is not limited to servant-master relationships and can be used in various contexts.