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1. To ask one to answer a question, as in a classroom or other academic setting. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used after "on." My son says that he raises his hand in class every day, and the teacher never calls on him. I didn't have an answer ready, but the teacher called on me anyway.
2. To pursue one, often romantically. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used after "on." I don't think he's interested in me, considering how he's been calling on the girl down the street.
3. To ask one to do something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used after "on." We received an overwhelming response when we called on our members to donate to this very important cause.
4. To utilize something, often a quality or skill. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used after "on." The championship game was so intense that I really had to call on my mental toughness just to get through it.
5. To visit one. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used after "on." I'm sorry I'm late—I called on Maggie after work because her mother just died.
6. To challenge one to prove that one's claims or boasts are true. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used between "call" and "on." He insisted that he could run faster than me, but when I called him on it, he suddenly had to go home. The moderator finally called the candidate on her misleading statements.
7. To confront one about one's misdeeds or unpleasant behavior. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is typically used between "call" and "on." If your intern keeps coming in late, you need to call her on it.
call (up)on someone (to do something)
to choose someone to do something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) I call upon all of you to make your feelings known to your elected representatives. I called on George for his help, but he refused.
call (up)on someone
1. to visit someone. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) My mother's friends call upon her every Wednesday. Let's call on Mrs. Franklin this afternoon.
2. to choose someone to respond, as in a classroom. The teacher called upon me, but I was not ready to recite. Please don't call on me. I can't remember a thing.
call on someone
to court someone. Jim's calling on the new cook over at the Browns'. In the old days, a boy had to ask a girl's father for permission to come call on her.
call on something
Fig. to draw on something, such as a particular quality or talent. This project calls on all the creative skills you can gather together. It calls on everything you've got.
Also, call upon.
1. Make a request, ask for, choose, as in We are calling upon you to run for chairman, or The teacher called on Joe to answer. [c. 1400]
2. Pay a brief visit, as in The salesman said he'd call on me in the morning. Shakespeare had this usage in Antony and Cleopatra (1:4): "I'll call upon you ere you go to bed." [Late 1500s]
1. To select or request someone to undertake a particular activity: The teacher always calls on the students in the back row to answer questions.
2. To make use of some resource; draw on something: I called on all my strength to lift the rock that had fallen on my foot.
3. To visit someone: I called on my neighbors last night and returned a book I had borrowed.
4. To challenge someone on the truth or accuracy of something that has been said: When the magician boasted that he could juggle blindfolded, we called him on it, and he was forced to admit he was lying.
5. To tell someone that one has noticed that he or she has done something wrong: When I called her on her bad behavior, she apologized and said that it would not happen again.