Call Around: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
August 31, 2023

"Call around" is an idiom that many might have come across, especially in a world dominated by phone calls and communications. Just as with many idiomatic expressions, this one holds a unique significance, reflecting the nuances of our communication culture.

In short:

  • "Call around" means reaching out to multiple people or places, usually over the phone, in an effort to obtain information or convey a message.

What Does "Call Around" Mean?

The idiom "call around" isn't just about picking up the phone and dialing a number. It carries a specific implication of making several calls to different people or places to gather information, seek assistance, or achieve a specific goal. This phrase has embedded itself into our modern vernacular, symbolizing the effort to connect and communicate.

  • "Call around" often implies making more than one phone call until the desired result is achieved.
  • It can suggest a sense of urgency or importance in gathering information or seeking assistance.
  • It's not limited to personal contexts. Businesses might "call around" to suppliers to find the best prices or to customers for feedback.

This idiom might sound quite modern, given its relevance to telephone communication, but its roots go deeper, and its meanings have evolved over time. While the primary understanding revolves around telephonic communication, it's also an idiom that underlines perseverance and diligence in seeking out information or assistance.

Where Does "Call Around" Come From?

Understanding the origin of idioms can sometimes be like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and the phrase "call around" is no exception. While it's difficult to pinpoint the exact origin, the history of this idiom is intertwined with the rise of telecommunication and society's reliance on it.

The Evolution of Communication

"The telephone, a remarkable invention of the 19th century, transformed communication forever."

Before the invention of the telephone, sending messages or gathering information from various sources required physical visits or sending letters, which was time-consuming. With the advent of the telephone, it became easier to call around and quickly get the needed information. It's likely that this phrase emerged as telephones became more prevalent in homes and businesses, making multiple calls to different places a common task.

Early Uses

Though hard evidence of its earliest use in literature or newspapers is scarce, the phrase has been in informal spoken English for quite some time. Its adoption into colloquial language underscores the idiom's relevance to everyday activities, especially as telecommunication evolved and became more accessible to the masses.

Over time, "call around" has solidified its place not just when referring to the act of telephoning but as a testament to the human instinct of seeking, inquiring, and connecting with others.

10 Examples of "Call Around" in Sentences

The phrase "call around" is versatile and can be used in various situations.

Here are ten examples to demonstrate its flexibility:

  • I decided to call around to see if anyone found my lost cat. It made my day when someone found him.
  • Before choosing a venue for the event, we should call around and get some price quotes.
  • Can you call around and ask if any of our neighbors have an extra lawnmower we can borrow?
  • She began to call around the hospitals when her husband didn't return home on time, but they chalked it up to traffic.
  • I've been calling around to find the best deal on a used car, but maybe a new one will be better.
  • We'll call around and see if anyone can babysit on Friday night.
  • He advised me to call around before deciding on a particular insurance plan.
  • I spent the morning calling around the local stores to check if they had the book in stock. Their help was much appreciated.
  • If you're unsure about the procedure, just call around a few experts for advice.
  • Before the holiday season, they called around to gauge interest in a community celebration.

Examples of "Call Around" in Pop Culture

The idiom "call around" isn't just used in everyday conversation. It has made its presence felt in popular culture as well.

Here are a few instances:

  • In a popular sitcom episode, a character jestingly said, "I had to call around to every pizza place in town before I found one that hadn't banned him!"
  • The drama film from the 90s had a poignant scene where a mother says, "I've been calling around all night, fearing the worst, hoping to hear your voice."
  • A well-known radio talk show host once commented, "Before the age of the internet, you had to call around and get information the old-fashioned way!"
  • In a detective novel, the protagonist notes, "Before I piece this puzzle together, I'll have to call around and gather more clues."
  • A popular song from the early 2000s has the lyrics, "Call around town, asking if she's there, but no one seems to know."

Note that while these references emphasize the prevalence of the idiom in pop culture, its usage and importance in everyday speech remain paramount.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Call Around"

While "call around" is a widely used idiom, there are other expressions that can be employed to convey a similar message. Here's a list:

  • Phone about
  • Ring up
  • Check-in with
  • Touch base with
  • Reach out to

Each of these expressions, while carrying nuances of their own, can often be used interchangeably with "call around," depending on the context.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Call Around"

  • What does "call around" mean?

It means to make several phone calls, usually to different people or places, in search of some specific information or to accomplish a particular task.

  • Is "call around" used in everyday language?

Yes, it's a common idiom, especially when someone is trying to gather information or make plans by contacting multiple sources.

  • Where did the phrase "call around" originate?

Its origin is not clearly documented, but it has been used in the English language for quite some time, evolving with the advent and common usage of telephones.

  • Can "call around" be used in a formal setting?

While it is more commonly used in informal conversations, it's understandable in formal contexts, especially when discussing logistical arrangements.

  • Are there any idioms similar to "call around" in other languages?

Yes, many languages have idioms related to making multiple phone calls or inquiries. The exact phrasing and context can vary based on culture and language structure.

  • How is "call around" different from "call back"?

While "call around" implies making several calls to different places, "call back" means to return a call to the same person or place.

  • Is "call around" only limited to phone calls?

Originally, it was meant for phone calls, but in today's digital age, it can also imply reaching out to multiple sources via different means, like emails or messaging apps.

  • Why is it important to "call around" before making a decision?

It allows for a wider range of information gathering and can help in making a more informed decision, especially when comparing options or seeking recommendations.

  • Can "call around" be used when referring to businesses?

Yes, businesses often "call around" to suppliers or partners when they're sourcing materials or comparing service providers.

  • Is "call around" an American idiom, or is it used globally?

While it's widely used in American English, the idiom is understood and used in other English-speaking regions as well.

Final Thoughts About "Call Around"

"Call around" is a versatile and practical idiom that has stood the test of time. Its relevance has grown in our interconnected world, where quick communication is often needed to gather information or make informed decisions.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • It primarily refers to making several phone calls, usually to different people or places.
  • The idiom can be applied in various contexts, from personal tasks like organizing a gathering to business dealings like sourcing materials.
  • Though originally centered around phone calls, its meaning can stretch to other forms of communication in today's digital age.
  • Using "call around" before making decisions can lead to better outcomes, as it promotes thorough research and consideration.
  • While it's widely recognized in American English, the idiom is also understood in other English-speaking regions.

In everyday language, idioms like "call around" enrich our expressions and allow for more nuanced communication. Whether you're trying to find the best deal on a product, organizing a surprise party, or just catching up with friends, there's a good chance you might find yourself "calling around" to make things happen.

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