I am trying to understand the meaning of the following sentence, but I don't find in the dictionary what "call somebody out" means in this case, since the only meanings given from the OALD are "to ask somebody to come, especially to an emergency" and "to order or advise workers to stop work as a protest" which don't seem to be the correct meaning in this case.

In a relationship, you need somebody who's gonna call you out, not someone who's gonna let everything slide.

As side question, Google Translate translates "who's gonna" with che ha intenzione di ("who intends"). Is gonna ever used with that meaning, or is always another way of saying "going to"?

  • Gonna is always a contraction of going to. (But going to can't always be contracted to gonna. Gonna is limited in both syntax and meaning.)
    – user230
    Nov 26, 2013 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


Let's start with removing idioms and colloquialism

In a relationship, you need somebody who will complain when you've done something wrong, and not someone who ignores (forgives) your faults.

First, "gonna" is a colloquialism for "going to". The standard future form "somebody who is going to..."

"Call you out" is an idiom meaning in this context telling - sometimes even in a harsh way - that you did something wrong; reacting to your doing.

"let something slide" is an idiom that means overlooking/ignoring some fault on purpose. Say, you were going 80mph on a road with speed limit of 60mph. There was a policeman with a radar, and they did notice you speeding. They did not stop you, no ticket, no fine, nothing - they let it slide. It's not the same as not seeing the fault - it's choosing not to do anything about it.

Your original sentence means that for a successful relationship you need a honest feedback from your partner. If something you do ires them, they should tell you. If you keep doing something wrong and they never protest, it damages the relationship.

  • 2
    It should probably be noted that usually to "call someone out" implies that the someone knows they did wrong. For example, I get more change from the cashier than they actually owe me. I count said change, realize this, but decide to take the extra dollar. Someone who calls me out is bringing my wrong-doing to my own attention; almost guilting me for it. Had I not noticed and accidentally taken the extra change, you'd likely use a different phrase/idiom.
    – Doc
    Nov 26, 2013 at 16:43
  • is gonna = ‘is going to’; it may have, but does not have to have, the specific meaning of intend to. In this case it has a ‘generic’ modality and means ‘will habitually’ or ‘will make a practise of’
  • to call out is to ‘challenge’, in the agentive senses of that word
  • to let X slide in this context means to ‘allow X to pass unchallenged’

So the sentence may be paraphrased:

In a relationship, you need somebody who will challenge you[r actions and attitudes], not somebody who will allow [your] every action and attitude pass without challenge.


To put this another way, to call someone out means to challenge someone in some way - usually to challenge their ideas or opinions. For example, if I were to say "all of the other stackexchange sites are stupid except for ELL.SE", I would expect a friend (or person I'm in a relationship with) to call me out on this opinion, and ask me to justify it.

The person who wrote this is trying to convey the idea that you should be in a relationship with someone who doesn't let you get away with making false claims or using poor logic, they call you out on those weaknesses so that you can improve. Letting that stuff go (or slide) would be to let you continue to have those weaknesses.

A reference for this definition of "call out" was conveniently provided by @snailboat in the comments. See this Wiktionary entry (#4).


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