Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Mar 10 2010   1:42PM GMT

Beck and call or beckon call?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
beacon call
beck and call
beckon call
beckoned call
Business writing
CIO
commonly misspelled words
commonly misunderstood phrases
eggcorn
grammar
meanings
Quiz

Which is correct?
Top Security Specialists offers the best in personal service and puts our R&D at your ___________.
a. beck and call
b. beckon call


Answer: a

Explanation:
This is another homophone error — something that people hear (but don’t see in print) and make an assumption about based on the sound. Homophone errors are sometimes called eggcorns.

Phrases.org covers “beck and call”:

‘Call’ is used here with its usual meaning. ‘Beck’ is more interesting. The word, although current in English since the 14th century, isn’t one that is found outside the phrase ‘beck and call’ these days. It is merely a shortened form of ‘beckon’, which we do still know well and understand to mean ‘to signal silently, by a nod or motion of the hand or finger, indicating a request or command’.

If the term ‘beck and call’ had originated prior to the 14th century we we would presumably now say ‘beckon and call’.

The Eggcorn Database reports on sightings of beckon call in the wild and further reports that this phrase is also sometimes seen as “beckoned call” and “beacon call.”

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