Is there a word for calling out in contexts like:

  • if I am in a dark room and I call out "who's there?"

  • if I am in a desert and I call out "is anyone out there?"

  • if I am sending a broadcast over a communication channel to see who is on the line?

Broadcast might work but I am wondering if there is a more "human" word for this?

  • For the first two, ‘calling out’ seems the most natural phrasing for me, though it is of course not ideal for a broadcast sent over the radio, for example. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '13 at 10:13
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    Simply "call" works quite well. – James Webster Sep 5 '13 at 11:16
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    Marco?????????? – JeffSahol Sep 5 '13 at 12:14
  • "Pig-Hoo-o-o-o-ey!" – terdon Sep 5 '13 at 13:22
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    "CQ CQ" is one I grew up hearing often, as my dad was an amateur radio operator. It's a shout-out for anyone on that band to respond. – LindaCamillo Sep 5 '13 at 15:56

There are phrases (and related verbs and nouns) that describe the first two such as give a holler

This is related to the verb holler

to shout or yell (something)

but it has a less excited quality, and is often used to refer to a greeting, and can even be used to convey contact me.

A similar term is give a shout. This also has a less urgent tone than the verb shout

These terms could be used to refer to electronic communication, but this usage is probably not very common. It has a bit of an oxymoronic quality (electronic amplification eliminates the need to holler or shout).

A related phrase specifically used on broadcast media is give a shout-out

a greeting, especially when someone on the radio sends the greeting to someone who might be listening

Another term commonly used for the electronic shout on a computer line to see if someone is there is ping

to send a test message to (a computer or server) in order to check whether it is responding or how long it takes it to respond

  • As it happens, I was writing a program that translated certain network traffic to human-readable expressions, and was looking for a word that I could use as a translation for "010d0a" which is this device controller's phrase for "multicast request for all available devices to report their existence." Its sort of a "promiscuous ping" or a "to-whom-it-may-concern ping" I suppose. "Open-recipient ping"? "Recipient-agnostic ping?" I think shout is probably the best fit over all. – evenex_code Sep 5 '13 at 21:30
  • Interestingly, a google search reveals that Cisco offers something they call a "hoot and holler" network to enable fast propagation of information in such scenarios as the floor of a financial exchange. – evenex_code Sep 5 '13 at 21:37

the word that I can immediately think of is


a shout to attract attention, esp to call hounds at a hunt

Used to catch someone's attention.

To call out to.

(source: freedictionary.com)

  • Nice but very old-fashioned - and perhaps a suggestion of knowing that there's someone there, rather than of broadcasting one's presence to all and sundry? – Chris H Sep 5 '13 at 11:08
  • Chris - I agree with that - however I thought just as you would use it when hunting, you might employ it when you are in a dark room or a desert. "Call out" probably is still the best as Janus remarks, but if you are looking for a single word.... – user49727 Sep 5 '13 at 11:23

You can use

challenge: transitive verb 2: to order to halt and prove identity the sentry challenged the stranger


challenge: noun 2a : a calling to account or into question c : a sentry's command to halt and prove identity

from m-w.com

  • @terdon - Hmmm OK. I guess it could be used as a description of the first one ("who's there?") dependent on tone of voice it is said in. challenge definitely implies some degree of demanding a response over and above simple inquiry though. – Martin Smith Sep 5 '13 at 13:26
  • Yes, I think it still could be a challenge if delivered in the right manner even if it turns out that no one is there to answer it. My original reaction to this answer was completely negative but I am coming round to it. To me "challenge" would indicate a certain attitude which may or may not be present based on the information in the question. – Martin Smith Sep 5 '13 at 13:53
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    This is good but, to me, implies 1) a security context and 2) a certain directedness, as though there must be a specific recipient. "Issuing a challenge into the night" sounds right to me for the most part, but doesn't quite capture the "CQ CQ" (as LindaBrammer mentioned in a comment) connotation I was hoping to include. – evenex_code Sep 5 '13 at 21:34

In all your examples, the person is Testing. e.g. for the existance of someone, for a listener, etc.


After further thought, I would like to offer:

RSVP: abbreviation please reply

It's a bit out of context, traditionally for a written invitation to something, but I don't think it gets more direct than this.

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