Beck and Call

Meaning of “Beck and Call”

The phrase “beck and call” means to be meek to a person and be available at someone’s call or request. It also means become a person’s obedient servant willingly or unwillingly. In other words, it means to be responsive to even a slight request for service from a person. At times, the phrase is used as an expression of anger when a person doesn’t want to be called during the odd hours.

Origin of “Beck and Call”

The phrase “beck and call” seems to have emerged in the 14th century but appeared in print in 1611 in the collection of poems “Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum” written by Aemilia Lanyer as;

“The Muses doe attend upon your Throne,
With all the Artists at your becke and call.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Humanity Is Not at Your Beck And Call by Mohammad Akmal Nazir

Humanity is not at your beck and call,
It will never come at your threshold
To get itself served,
And if it is so, wait for the worst,
For Humanity is next to Godliness,
And God loves the poor and downtrodden,
So don’t play with them,
Or you will cut a sorry figure
Before Him.

This poem sheds light on the use of this phrase as included in its title in the same meanings. The poem states that humanity and godliness are the same things and that they never bend on their knees for an individual. A person should pay homage to the poor, as God loves them. In this case, if he does not, he would feel sorry for it later. In other words, instead of making others be at the beck of call of oneself, the person should be humble to others.

Example #2

Beck + Call by July Talk

Why do you want me today?
Is it because you think you’re wonderful?
Am I fun to play?
Why do you want me today?
Is it because you think you’re wonderful
Or is it because you think you’re worth less than nothing at all?
At your beck and call
We’re not the first to fall
To feel unknown
Still we jump at your beck and call

The song presents a speaker who asks his beloved why she is asking him to be at his beck and call. The speaker argues that she should not think herself superior to others and that they should be at her beck and call. Interestingly, the speaker is saying that they are not the first people to feel that they are inferior to her. They are certainly at her beck and call.

Example #3

Beck and Call by Eric Alagan

This beautiful novel by Eric Alagan presents Edwin Tyler, who starts a new venture even during the recession and wins popularity but his friend, Roy, becomes his commercial enemy by engineering something murky in his business world. Tayler soon finds himself grappling with the facts of the criminal world and syndicates. However, his inclusion in this world creates in him a multitasking and multidimensional tycoon who is mired from Europe to Asia in the world of money and crime. The use of this phrase shows how Roy exploits his friend Tyler to be at his beck and call.

Example #4

Liberty’s Call: A Story of the American Revolution by Donnell Rubay

Actually, though, most of the time, Lord Clowes could praise Washington and the war that general was waging.

Though many in Philadelphia were struggling to survive, Clowes was living extremely well. He’d one of the finest Rebel homes assigned to him. A coach and four saddle horses were at his beck and call. A dozen servants – some military, some slave – handled household chores and stable work. A larger and cellar filled to overflowing, provided tasty food and drink, while the finest china graced his table.

The book, Liberty’s Call, is about the American Revolution. This paragraph shows the use of this phrase in the third line. Lord Clowes and Washington are together in the war. It shows that there were four hours and a coach reserved for Clowes to help him fight that war. The meanings of the phrase are clear that the coach driver and horses were always ready waiting for Clowes’ signal.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “Rachel is not your servant that she should be ready at your beck and call.”

Example #2: “You should treat your employees with respect too and honor their work timings. You can expect them to work at your beck and call.”

Example #3: “Gordon was a very rude man. He always ordered his siblings and expected them to come at his beck and call.”

Example #4: “Nissi is very humble. She will be there for anyone at their beck and call if they want help”.

Example #5: “Just because Manny is coming at your beck and call, doesn’t mean that he likes you. He is waiting for the right moment to quit your team. If I were you, I’d choose kindness.”