Don’t call us, we’ll call you


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Don't call us, we'll call you'?

Other phrases with

Don’t bother to pursue your application further.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Don't call us, we'll call you'?

A fuller version of this phrase would be ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you – if we need to’. Of course, anyone hearing this line can reasonably expect not to need to wait by the phone. It is a quite recent phrase – mid 20th century American, and appears to derive from the brush-off lines given to theatrical auditioners. The earliest citation I’ve come across is in the Ohio newspaper The Toledo Blade, March 1944, in Dorothy Kilgallen’s column The Voice Of Broadway:

“Audition after audition left her with nothing but “Sorry” and “Not the type” and “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” and a heart that was close to breaking.”

It is sufficiently clichéd now to be often shortened to “don’t call us” and widespread enough to be used as a term of rejection in a variety of circumstances.

Trend of do not call us in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.