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Will. Call.

February 26, 2010

will call.jpegYou know how sometimes you look at a once-familiar word, phrase or sentence and it suddenly seems incomprehensible, like it's written in Swahili or Urdu?

That happened to me a couple of nights ago as I was on the plane back from New York staring dumbly at the screen of a passenger seated a couple of rows ahead of me. My neighbor was watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on the in-flight TV service and Larry David was gesticulating in his usual over-the-top fashion at some other guy in front of a theater box office.

All of a sudden, the words "Will Call" came floating into view. Being a frequenter of box offices on an almost daily basis myself, I never pay much attention to these two small words. But seeing them on screen the other day gave me pause for thought. What on earth does "will call" actually mean? And where does the phrase come from? It makes very little sense to me in the context of a box office. A sentence like "I will call you tomorrow" uses the words in a normal way. If anyone out there can shed light on the etymology behind this phrase, I'd love to hear from you.

PS More travels ahead: Lies Like Truth is going on hiatus for ten days or so. I will be blogging again from March 9.


  • Chloe, I do not know if there is anything American about my reading; but I have always assumed that the semantics of "call" lie in the context of "pay a call," as in "pay a visit." In other words the recipient of the tickets will pay a call to the box office to collect them. How do they talk about this back on your sceptered isle? (I used to have a lot of trouble with being told to "hold on for a while" during a telephone call in Singapore!)

    By Blogger Stephen Smoliar, At February 26, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

  • interesting reading of the phrase, stephen. i guess that makes sense. i honestly can't remember what term they use in the UK.

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At February 26, 2010 at 2:02 PM  

  • I cannot shed any light on "will call," but a word that has bothered me is "welcome." Whether on a doormat or in a response to "thank you" ("you're welcome"), the word seems to lack specific meaning.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At February 26, 2010 at 3:44 PM  

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