Will Call

This usually means the window at a theater or event where you pick up tickets that you reserved in advance.

Wikipedia sums the etymology nicely:

The word “call” is a shortened form of “call for”, which means “to come and get”, so “will call” literally means “(the customer) will call for (come and get) the goods.” In a linguistic process similar to initial-stress derived nominalization, the first syllable of the noun phrase is usually stressed (“will call”) rather than the second syllable in the verb phrase (“will call”).

Why I Looked It Up

I had always wondered – it seems like such a weird phrase for a noun: “the will call window.” I was waiting for my wife at a movie theater, and the lady at entrance kept asking everyone, “Do you have will call tickets?” I heard it enough times that I wanted to know the origin.


Added on May 30, 2022

I was walking around London in May 2022 and encountered something which explains it better, and – honestly – makes me feel a little dumb for being confused.

At a theater in central London, there was a sign that said “Box Office,” and right under that “Willkommen.” The latter is German for “welcome.”

I did some looking into the etymology of “welcome” and it comes from two things:

So, “welcome” in that context was literally saying “will come” – as in, “someone will come here.”

This got me thinking about the word “call.” We think of “call” and in “telephone call.” But historically “call” just means “visit.”

So, “will call” means, literally, “this person will show up at this location to get their tickets.”

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