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1. Of, relating to, or involving communication that occurs directly between two people in real time. Online instant message services allow person-to-person conversations without the awkwardness of a phone call. They do not allow person-to-person voice chat for their online video game in order to avoid bullying and abuse of younger players.
2. obsolete Of, relating to, or involving a telephone call placed through an operator that only incurred a charge should the designated recipient be available to answer. When I traveled around the country as a teenager back in the '60s, I used to make person-to-person calls to my parents asking for Mr. and Mrs. Rutabaga—they'd recognize the fake name and know I'd gotten to my destination in one piece, and I wouldn't have to pay for the long-distance.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
person to person
A phone call for which the intended party was changed only when the intended caller answered the phone. Back in the days before inexpensive or free longdistance phone calls, callers worried about the risk of being charged if the person to whom they wanted to speak wasn't available. To avoid that possibility, they made an operator-assisted person-to-person call. However, if they wanted to gamble or they knew the party would be available to answer, they made a station- to-station call where toll charges began when anyone picked up the receiver. Many travelers abused person-to-person calls to let the folks at home know that they had reached their destination. For example, college students placed calls to a family pet when they returned to a distant school after vacation. Their parents knew their children had arrived safely when they received a person-to-person call for “Mr. Spot” or “Ms. Fluffy."
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price