What are common phrases an English native speaker would use for the pose of speaking on the phone where you use your shoulder to keep the receiver against your ear (and mouth), so your hands are free?

I have some ideas, but they all sound wooden, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone describe this pose in words. It's also pretty much impossible to google for a pose or look it up on leo.org or other dictionaries.

OK, since people keep asking for what phrasings I found, I'll provide two, though I was hoping I could avoid influencing people who answer here by not providing them: "balance on one's shoulder", "held/nestled/sandwiched between shoulder and ear".

  • 1
    The first thing that pops into my mind is "holding the phone with your shoulder." You should edit your question, and share a few of your ideas.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 16:49
  • Welcome to English.SE. The FAQ and the linked document on how to ask a good question have more information about what should be included in your question.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 17:12
  • J.R., I wanted to avoid 'poisoning' the results with my (probably wrong or clunky) ideas.
    – uliwitness
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 17:35
  • 1
    MetaEd, I read the FAQ and this question seemed on topic. Hence I posted. If you wanted to indicate I'm doing something wrong, I'd appreciate a more concrete criticism so I can fix it. Thanks!
    – uliwitness
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 17:36
  • -1 for another one of these "what is a phrase for [x y z]" questions that offers no explanation of what's wrong with just saying "[x y z]," or how we are to know that our answer won't be rejected for the same vague reason. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 3:57

6 Answers 6


Many people use the verb to cradle for this:

as in cradling a phone on their shoulder

With variations of:
phone cradled against her shoulder
cradled the phone to his shoulder
cradled between my ear and shoulder
cradled between neck and shoulder
cradled between his shoulder and ear
cradled between his shoulder and jaw

  • The other answers are not bad, but this is definitely the one I encounter the most in actual use, by far.
    – John Y
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 18:41
  • This should be chosen as the answer. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 4:14

I thought it was "in the crook of the neck":

  • If we combine your answer with the answer by @Jim , we'd get "cradling the phone in the crook of our neck", which is pretty much how Link #2 words it. No matter how you say it, perhaps it's time to buy a Rest-a-Phone :^) (Note how the professionals at Super Rest-a-Phone call it wedging the phone between the ear and shoulder).
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 23:18
  • @J.R.- Although I tend to think their word choice may be biased, after all they don't want to evoke nice images of babies peacefully sleeping in their cradles, they want to evoke uncomfortable images of things being wedged into place.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 3:24
  • @Jim: that's a good point. I had only meant to illustrate that there's probably no single way to describe this position (I had no problem with the O.P.'s nestled or balanced, either). But you're analysis is excellent – I hadn't thought about the marketing aspect of wedge vs cradle.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 8:42
  • Yeah, cradling or just holding I suppose. Although I must admit with cradling I visualise holding something in the arms. Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 11:05
  • With the phone propped on her shoulder...
  • With the phone pinned between her shoulder and her ear...
  • With the phone balanced on her shoulder...

You'd have the telephone crooked [under your chin].


A simpler way to say it would be: "She held/put/balanced the phone on her shoulder." In particular, you can get away with not mentioning the ear at all, since usage of the phone automatically implies ear proximity. If you are describing specifically the act of switching from holding the phone in one's hand to holding it on one's shoulder, you can say something like: "She transferred the phone to her shoulder to free up her hands."


You might say scrunched, as in “She scrunched the phone between her shoulder and ear and hurriedly scribbled notes.”


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