The following is a part of Donald Trump's remarks on Vegas shooting.

In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one -- and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us -- our faith, our family, and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community, and the comfort of our common humanity.

Does the idiom phrase 'call upon' here mean 'produce, utilize' or 'appeal to'?

  • The same pattern of repetitive invocation is used by covens of witches when they do their summoning, and by practitioners of animistic religions, and by people petitioning or appealing to those in political power. books.google.com/…
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


The object of call upon can be the person or entity being petitioned, in which case it is a direct appeal, that those called upon should take some action; the object of call upon can also be an ideal, in which case the audience is being reminded of those ideals, and in that case the invocation of the ideals is an indirect appeal to the audience, that they should abide by those ideals.

More examples.


"Appeal to". To "call upon" something as used here means "call" as in "ask" or "yell to", you are asking this thing for help, shouting out to it for help.

"Call upon" is a little out of date. Today we usually say "call on".

  • "Call upon" is in a literary/oratorical register. It is still widely used.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 9:44

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