a gesture used to signal, summon, or direct someone.
Chiefly Scot. a bow or curtsy of greeting.
at someone’s beck and call, ready to do someone’s bidding; subject to someone’s slightest wish:
He has three servants at his beck and call.
a nod, wave, or other gesture or signal
at someone’s beck and call, ready to obey someone’s orders instantly; subject to someone’s slightest whim
(in N England) a stream, esp a swiftly flowing one
late 14c., “mute signal,” from noun use of bekken (v.), variant of becnan “to beckon” (see beckon). Transferred sense of “slightest indication of will” is from late 15c.
c.1300, shortening of beckon. (v.).
Required to comply with someone’s requests or commands, as in The boss expects the entire staff to be at his beck and call . The noun beck , now obsolete except in this idiom, meant “a gesture or signal of command, such as a nod or hand movement,” whereas call signifies “a vocal summons.” Also see dance attendance on
see: at someone’s beck and call
- At someone’s elbow
Immediately beside someone, close by, as in The apprentice was constantly at the master’s elbow. Why this idiom focuses on the elbow rather than the arm, shoulder, or some other body part is not known. Moreover, it can mean either that someone is so nearby as to constitute a nuisance or in order to readily […]
- At someone’s feet, be
Also, sit at someone’s feet. Be enchanted or fascinated by someone, as in Dozens of boys are at her feet, or Bill sat at his mentor’s feet for nearly three years, but he gradually became disillusioned and left the university. [ Early 1700s ] For a quite different meaning, see under one’s feet
- At someone’s heels
Also, on someone’s heels . Immediately behind, in close pursuit. This idiom is used both literally, as in Jean’s dog was always at her heels , and figuratively, as in Although his company dominated the technology, he always felt that his competitors were on his heels . This idiom appeared in the 14th-century romance Sir […]
- At someone’s request
On being asked to do something, as in At my request they’ll move us to another room, or I’m speaking at his request. [ 1300s ] Also see: by request