What does "take a call" mean?

Let me cite two references:

Congress President Sonia Gandhi will take a call on the candidature of around a dozen relatives of leaders, including that of President's son, for the October 13 assembly elections in Maharashtra.

Another reference:

We have certain guidelines & policy in delivering consignments safely & any violation in safety will not be tolerated.

If you don’t want to abide by our policy, then you are free to take a call on continuing your business with our organization.

What does "take a call" mean in the above contexts? The meaning of the phrase appears to be to "take decision". But, I do not find the phrase in any dictionary.

Can anyone shed some light?

  • 3
    Oxford noun 7.1 (You'll need to scroll down quite a long way)
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 7, 2018 at 13:24
  • Related, but probably not a duplicate. english.stackexchange.com/questions/289624/… Mar 8, 2018 at 17:19
  • @AndrewLeach: The definition that you linked to works with “make a call”, not so well with “take a call”. Perhaps, if you believe that you know the answer to this question, you should post it as an answer, so it can be downvoted if appropriate. Mar 8, 2018 at 19:03
  • @Scott You've never heard of taking a decision? It's exactly analogous. Perhaps what I should have done was to close the question, but working on a phone isn't as easy as on a large screen.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 8, 2018 at 19:13
  • In his comment of Mar 12 '18 at 9:12, to DJClayworth's answer - the OP states that he knows what the expression means and that it is an Indianism.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 19, 2021 at 12:18

5 Answers 5


This is a phrase peculiar to India. It's not used by native English speakers. Its meaning is the same as "make the call", i.e. to make a decision.

Here are headlines from two Indian newspapers that illustrate this usage:


The normal, simple meaning of "take a call" is to decide to receive a phone call. For example a leader of one country would 'take a call' from another to discuss some issue, as opposed to 'not taking a call' meaning that they don't want to discuss.

By extension the phrase can be used for any form of discussion, not just a phone call. So your first could reasonably be interpreted to mean that Sonia Gandhi will discuss the candidatures of relatives with others, presumably before making a decision.

I had thought that the in second sentence "take a call" was a mistake for "make a call". In British and American English "Make a call" means to make a clear and definite decision: for example a football referee "makes a call" on whether a goal is valid or not. However I have since found several examples of Indian English where "take a call" is used with the same meaning as "make a call" in British English, i.e. "make a definite decision". 1 2

While the company may be urging you to discuss with others whether you want to abide by their safety rules, it is much more likely that they want you clearly decide if you want to continue your business with the company (in which case you need to abide by the safety rules) or not.

  • Would the downvoter care to explain? Mar 9, 2018 at 1:18
  • Yes, the company is asking the transporter to stop transporting. Mar 9, 2018 at 16:17
  • 1
    1) If you know that why did you ask? 2) That's what the answer says. Mar 9, 2018 at 18:31
  • I asked because I wanted to know what the expression exactly meant. What are its usages? Was it rightly used? Do not you fall back upon a dictionary to find out the whole lot of details about a particular word or phrase you have heard only for the first time, though you could sense the meaning? Mar 12, 2018 at 9:12
  • 5
    I'm an Indian myself. This is definitely an Indianism in the same league as "prepone" and "updation"
    – Frederick
    Jul 4, 2018 at 9:21

The first example appears to be in the sense of "receive a phone call", in this case extended to mean "sit in on a conference call".

The second example appears to be a sports (or perhaps card game) metaphor, but it's hard to guess specifically which one. A player may be "called" for some sort of "foul", or (particularly in cards) may choose to "pass" a round of the game.

There are several other senses of the idiom, but those would seem to fit best.

  • Do you have an example of 'take a call' being used in the card game sense? Mar 9, 2018 at 1:20
  • @DJClayworth - No, I do not. But "call", in poker (and, metaphorically, elsewhere), refers challenging a presumed "bluff". And, in some card games, one can "call" for a card to be drawn from the deck.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 9, 2018 at 1:29
  • In poker you always "make a call". And I've never heard "take a call" used on the other games. Mar 9, 2018 at 1:31
  • @DJClayworth - If you make a call then the guy on the other side takes the call, doesn't he?
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 9, 2018 at 1:36
  • I've never heard it put like that. Any examples? Mar 9, 2018 at 2:14

To "answer the call," it means to metaphorically look within, and follow, what you refer to as "your gut" "your soul" or "your heart" is willing you to do. Take a chance, and lean into what you understand not.

  • 1
    Does "answer the call" really have the same meaning as "take a call"? Feb 19, 2021 at 10:30

take a decision

eg: A man apprehended his girl friend is gay, "If she agrees she likes other women and sexually attracted to them, then you need to address your fears and take a call on your relationship.

  • 1
    This isn't really an improvement on the existing answers that include the same information. Nov 27, 2019 at 6:48

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