You know what it means to make a phone call. But what does it mean to call the shots, call someone’s bluff, or call dibs? Today you’ll learn 10 idioms and expressions with this word.
To be fluent in English, you need to be familiar with common idioms, these little phrases or expressions that can’t be translated literally. You can learn more than 300 idioms in 30 days when you join my course. The lessons will not only teach you the idioms, but also help you practice them to remember them better.
Ready to learn these 10 expressions with call? Let’s get started.
#1 – Call It A Day
This expression means to stop doing something (especially working) because the work is complete or because no more progress is being made – you’ll continue on the next day.
- “We’ve written 20 pages of the report. Let’s call it a day.”
#2 – Call it quits
A similar expression is “call it quits” which means to stop doing something, usually more permanently.
- “He used to play professional volleyball, but after a serious knee injury he had to call it quits.”
Sometimes it’s used for the end of a partnership or romantic relationship:
- “John and Sarah couldn’t agree on whether or not to have children, so they called it quits and went their separate ways.”
#3 – Call The Shots
The expression “call the shots” means to be in charge, to be the boss, to make the important decisions.
- “Sorry, I can’t give you approval for this part of the project. You should talk to Diana, she’s the one calling the shots.”
#4 – Call Someone’s Bluff
To call someone’s bluff is to make someone prove something, because you believe they are lying. For example, if your friend is bragging that he has $100,000 in his bank account, asking to see his bank statement would be “calling his bluff” – you’re challenging him to prove that what he is saying is true.
#5 – Wake-Up Call
“A wake-up call” is a sign or signal that alerts you to danger, or to a bigger problem:
- “The fatal car accident last week was a wake-up call for teenagers regarding the dangers of texting while driving.”
This expression comes from the practice of staying at a hotel and asking the receptionist to call your room at a specific time to wake you up. Most of us don’t do this anymore since we have alarm clocks and cell phones! So the idiom is just used for something that alerts you to danger.
#6 – A Close Call
This expression has two meanings:
- In a sports game or competition, if the difference between the winner and the others is (or will be) very small:
- “Currently, 49% of voters support Smith and 51% support Jones. This election is going to be a close call.”
- When something bad almost happened, but didn’t happen:
- “It was a very close call – the firemen pulled her out of the burning car just a few minutes before it exploded.”
#7 – good call
A good call is a good decision or good idea. When it’s a hot day and one of your friends suggests getting ice cream, you could say “Good call!” because it’s a good idea.
Or you’re going to an interview, and you decide to leave home earlier than necessary – and then you get delayed because of bad traffic, but because you left early, you still get to the interview on time. You could say “It was a good call to leave a little early” because it was a good decision.
#8 – call dibs / call shotgun
Call dibs is an informal way to claim something for yourself verbally. If there’s just one slice of pizza leftover from last night, you might say to your roommates, “I call dibs on the last piece of pizza!” in order to claim or reserve it for yourself.
One specific form of this is to call shotgun, which means to claim the front seat of the car next to the driver. So if you and three other people are going in a car and you want to ride in front (but not drive), you’d say “I call shotgun.” These are slang terms, very informal.
#9 – catcall
The verb catcall is when someone (typically a man) makes comments or whistles to a woman passing by, to show sexual interest.
- “Every time she walks by that corner, she gets catcalled by the guys waiting for the bus.”
#10 – last call
Last call is the last chance to do something or get something. At an airport, you might hear an announcement like “Last call for flight 128,” meaning it’s the last chance to get on the plane before it leaves.
Hope you enjoyed today’s lesson! Let me know what you think, and if there are other phrases in English that you’d like to learn. Remember to check out my idioms course for lots more of these informal expressions that are so common in everyday conversations, movies, TV shows, etc.