Posted by ESC on April 02, 2004
In Reply to: Does anybody know... posted by Beth on April 02, 2004
: ...from whence this phrase came?
: "he is at my beck & call..."
: I think it may be Scotch or Welsh? (somewhere with becks).
: Thanks :O)
From Merriam-Webster online:
Main Entry: beck
1 chiefly Scottish : BOW, CURTSY
2 a : a beckoning gesture b : SUMMONS, BIDDING
- at one's beck and call : ready to obey one's command immediately
A reference says, BECK AND CALL -- "Immediately available...A 'beck' is a silent signal, such as a nod of the head or a motion with the forefinger. The sense is apparent in the Earl of Worcester's Iulius Cesars Commentaryes : 'It should be ready at a beck.' In summoning a servant one might have to resort to a 'call' as well as a 'beck' if the servant did not see the beck or failed to respond to it." From "The Dictionary of Cliches" by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).
See also - the meaning and origin of 'Beck and call'.