Posted by R. Kesavan on June 03, 2004
In Reply to: Re: To be at their beck and call (meaning and origin) posted by ESC 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
This means to be at the service and at the command of another person. Usually servants and doers of menial jobs and the subordinates are expected to be at beck and call of their masters, employers and all.
: 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'.