Beckon Call, Beck and Call . . . Bacon Call?

 

  • “Beck and Call” is the proper spelling of the expression and is used to describe situations where one person does whatever is asked of them by another.
  • “Beckon Call” and “Bacon Call” are errors most likely caused by mishearing the proper expression. 

Have you ever heard an expression over and over (and even used it yourself), only to realize that what you were hearing and the actual expression were two different things? 

Sort of like when you’ve been singing to song lyrics for decades, and then someone suddenly looks at you and says, “Those aren’t the right lyrics.” Maybe you even looked them up yourself and felt like a fool. 

Don’t stress it – you’re not alone. 

It is common for the brain to take words and sounds and make inferences about what you hear when the articulation isn’t clear. Sometimes you even hear someone else saying an expression wrong, and others pick it up and use the improper form as well. 

One expression that, while not frequently used, is often misheard or mispronounced is . . . beckon call? Beck and call? Bacon call? Whatever that expression is. 

Beck and Call

We will begin with this version because it’s the one you want. 

To be at someone’s “beck and call” is to be available to do things for someone whenever they ask. Another similar phrase is “to wait on someone’s hand and foot” or even “to have someone wrapped around your little finger.” 

Often, the expression demonstrates one’s authority or power over someone else or condescendingly refers to someone who behaves in this fashion. 

  • Don’t worry about Patrick. He’s at my beck and call. As soon as I need something, he’s there. 
  • Johnny has Elizabeth at his beck and call. I can’t believe she doesn’t see that he’s just using her. 

Other times, it can be used playfully or as a form of hyperbole. 

  • Erica, I’m at your beck and call if you need anything. 
  • We’re at your beck and call; ring the bell if you need any help. 

Beckon Call

This common mistake is usually the result of mishearing the expression. There is some logic here; after all, “beck” is short for beckon. Call means to get someone’s attention, so while the two together are synonyms, that is a concept shared with the proper form.

The confusion comes from the brain hearing the secondary sound of “and” and attributing it to the conclusion of the familiar word, “beckon”, much the way it can puzzle out words and phrases even though they are unclear, misspelled, or have omitted words. 

Your brain makes an inference and fills in the blank. Sometimes, you may not even notice words are missing, especially if you read back through your writing for revision. 

Check this out:

Ti dosent evne mater wethr th lttres rae rearaged, mseplled, misng, ro sdrawkcab, u nac oprobly figre t uot!

Anyway, here’s how not to use this expression. 

  • The band director likes it when his students are at his beckon call

Uh-uh. Nope.

  • When Sheila broke her leg, Mike was at her beckon call

Still wrong. 

  • My mother was at my beckon call when I was sick. 

Yuck. 

 

Bacon Call

Now that’s what I’m talking about! BACON! 

While this is a phrase that people might enjoy hearing at breakfast time (or at any part of the day since it’s bacon we’re talking about), proper use of this phrase would be alerting people that the bacon is cooked and ready, and you should come and get some! 

It’s rather disappointing when you hear “bacon call,” and it’s just someone who has misheard how to say “beck and call.” 

While “bacon call” does sound similar to “beck and call,” it is not an acceptable substitute for the correct option. If you hear someone pronounce it this way, step in before a bacon-enthusiast gets their hopes up. 

Life is difficult enough to get through without expecting bacon and finding no bacon.

 

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