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What are we supposed to call a number that is not free and we have to pay for it? Paid call? Toll call? The call is made in the hometown.

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A charged call.

There is variation in different semantic areas:

a toll road, toll bridge

a pay toilet

(I should add that 'toll call' is used in two senses: 'long-distance and charged' and merely 'charged'. I've seen 'local toll call' used to disambiguate. I should think that the US prefers 'toll' and the UK 'charged' – but we'd agree that 'free' sounds better.)

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  • I've also heard people use "toll call" to refer specifically to what is officially called a "premium rate telephone number", i.e. a call billed at even higher rates than normal long-distance calls, with some of the money going to the business whose number it is. – zwol Dec 8 '13 at 18:07
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I never use the word 'toll' with telephones. Tolls are all about bridges and roads as far as I'm concerned, and I suppose that to be the case for most people in Britain. I do know that 0800 is a 'freephone' number. Any other number, in m y parlance, would be a 'chargeable' line.

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  • Just to be perfectly clear, this is BE usage only as far as I can tell. In AE toll-free is the accepted expression. To express the opposite, perhaps a phrase like "regular charges apply" could work? – Ingmar Dec 8 '13 at 14:37
  • @Ingmar Yes, I agree. but in Britain you are in further trouble with 'regular', as that has a history as the opposite of 'constipation'. – WS2 Dec 8 '13 at 16:01

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