Definition of telephone in English:


Pronunciation /ˈteləˌfōn/ /ˈtɛləˌfoʊn/

See synonyms for telephone

Translate telephone into Spanish


  • 1A system for transmitting voices over a distance using wire or radio, by converting acoustic vibrations to electrical signals.

    • ‘a telephone call’
    1. 1.1An instrument used as part of a telephone system, typically a single unit including a handset with a transmitting microphone and a set of numbered buttons by which a connection can be made to another such instrument.
      ‘it was eight-thirty when the telephone rang, and I knew it was Chandler’
      • ‘a telephone receiver’
      phone, handset, receiver
      View synonyms
  • 2US A game in which a sentence or phrase becomes distorted by being passed along to the next person in a whisper.

    Also called Chinese whispers

    ‘Stories are put out just like this one and a virtual game of telephone begins.’
    • ‘‘We could play a game, like telephone or truth or dare,’ suggested Mallory.’
    • ‘Do you remember the telephone game from elementary school?’
    • ‘It seems at least as likely that the whole allegation is a gigantic game of telephone where the prisoners exchanged stories, the stories got retold and this is where it all ended up.’

transitive verb

[with object]
  • 1Contact (someone) using the telephone.

    ‘he telephoned his wife at 9.30’
    • ‘Activists ring doorbells and telephone voters in critical districts, urging supporters to get out the vote.’
    • ‘On a Friday evening before Easter the man's wife telephoned the doctor but he was out.’
    • ‘If all your questions haven't been answered after your allotted slot, ask if you can book another appointment to come in, or arrange to telephone the teacher at school.’
    • ‘Please telephone him to arrange a suitable time and to indicate if you would like to have your house blessed.’
    • ‘You promised my wife that you would telephone me within the next two days which did not happen.’
    • ‘I didn't have a mobile phone to telephone my husband and so they said they would go to my house and get him.’
    • ‘The telephone socket was not connected so one of the neighbour's telephoned the police on her own mobile.’
    • ‘The respondent regularly telephoned his wife for her to arrange a taxi to collect him.’
    • ‘‘I'll telephone you as soon as I've spoken to my friend, Mrs Hawthorne,’ she said.’
    • ‘We gave no second thought to one of these youngsters using a cellphone to telephone his mom to come pick them up.’
    • ‘‘People were telephoning us and asking us what they could do to help or if there was any information - it was almost like a big family,’ she said.’
    • ‘Shortly after telephoning his wife and several friends in Italy, he was rearrested by the Egyptian government.’
    • ‘‘My wife was at home so I telephoned her,’ he said.’
    • ‘She wishes to express her sincerest thanks to all the people who telephoned her and called to her to assist in the updating of records.’
    • ‘On Thursday, his colleague telephoned his wife to inquire and found her responses suspicious.’
    • ‘We then telephoned patients who opted in to arrange an appointment.’
    • ‘The school also telephoned the applicant's wife, who thought the applicant was at work.’
    • ‘It is not uncommon for people to telephone friends or relations who say that they were just thinking of calling them.’
    • ‘She became worried and attempted to telephone her husband but his mobile phone was switched off.’
    • ‘Adams immediately telephoned the police but when officers searched the area they found nothing.’
    phone, call, get someone on the phone, get on the phone to, get, reach, dial, make a call to, place a call to
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object Make a telephone call.
      ‘she telephoned for help’
      • ‘I had telephoned for the ambulance and was looking out for it when I saw the policeman.’
      • ‘The man, who has not been named, was found unconscious in the Street after a woman telephoned for an ambulance but he was so badly injured that he could not be interviewed by detectives for three days.’
      • ‘A bereaved mother claims she was driven to the brink of suicide after an out-of-hours doctor fired questions at her about her daughter's tragic death when she telephoned for help.’
      • ‘Mr Jones telephoned for an ambulance while his son went over to the victim - who had landed on a concrete walkway next to a raised grass verge - to see if anything could be done to help him.’
      • ‘The boy said he helped his mother up and telephoned for an ambulance.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, police yesterday denied media reports that the woman had telephoned for help eight hours before the murders were discovered, but that her pleas had been ignored.’
      • ‘‘It's not like I need the money,’ the woman had said when Wendy telephoned for information and gasped at the cost.’
      • ‘She awoke her husband who telephoned for the Fire Brigade.’
      • ‘Fifty researchers telephoned for a loan or credit card with each of these four lenders, making a total of 200 calls.’
      • ‘The priest was able to telephone for help in spite of his serious injuries.’
      • ‘He had intended driving to a pub to telephone for help.’
      • ‘As usual, she telephoned for help and the paternal grandparents drove to Kingston to pick the children up.’
      • ‘Following the Boxing Day tsunami, Jo-Anne was quick to telephone to say they were okay.’
      • ‘Then one day, her lawyer telephoned to say she was dead.’
      • ‘In the future, cell phone users will be able to use Bluetooth to telephone at home via fixed-line networks.’
    2. 1.2Send (a message) by telephone.
      ‘Barbara had telephoned the news’
      • ‘The counter employee took messages, which were telephoned to the main telegraphy office in Manchester.’
      • ‘Traditionally, the results of emergency biochemistry and haematology requests have been telephoned by laboratory staff to the requesting clinician or ward area as soon as a specimen has been analysed.’
      • ‘However, the defendant's evidence was that she telephoned her ticket request to the Red Cross from the lottery shop with the knowledge and assent of her daughter, who owned the store.’
      • ‘You may write in, e-mail or telephone your choice.’
      • ‘Orlando folk can e-mail or telephone their gripes about what's wrong with life.’


Mid 19th century from tele- + -phone.