telephone

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English[edit]

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A rotary-dial telephone

Etymology[edit]

First used by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 to refer to the modern instrument, but previous devices had been given this name, which was borrowed from French téléphone. Ultimately from Ancient Greek τῆλε (têle, afar) + φωνή (phōnḗ, voice, sound).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

telephone (plural telephones)

  1. A telecommunication device (originally mechanical, and now electronic) used for two-way talking with another person (often shortened to phone).
  2. (Canada, US) Chinese whispers.
    • 2013 October 27, Erik Adams, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “The PTA Disbands””, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      And since the spring of 1995, no game of telephone has ended without some Simpsons-loving smart-ass dropping “purple monkey dishwasher” into the chain.

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Verb[edit]

telephone (third-person singular simple present telephones, present participle telephoning, simple past and past participle telephoned)

  1. To (attempt to) contact someone using the telephone.
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 4, in Lord Stranleigh Abroad[2]:
      “I came down like a wolf on the fold, didn’t I ?  Why didn’t I telephone ?  Strategy, my dear boy, strategy. This is a surprise attack, and I’d no wish that the garrison, forewarned, should escape. …”

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