Posted by ESC on June 03, 2004
In Reply to: To be at their beck and call (meaning and origin) posted by Paddy on June 03, 2004
: does it indicate to please them or being at their command or disposal as they please?
From Merriam-Webster online: - 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'.