Is it correct to say

She's gonna ring the phones off the hook asking for money...

meaning that she will continue calling over and over asking for money. I've heard the phrase "Phones have been ringing off the hook", many times. I just wanted to know if this phrase can be used in this way also.

  • Sorry, no. The image is of multiple calls coming in to a phone line (or set of phones lines), not of calls going out to other phones.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 23:12
  • What if she calls multiple phones belonging to the same family? Landline and multiple cell phones. Thanks
    – Bahram
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 23:22
  • 1
    It's understandable, but definitely not standard. Can you use it - yes, but it looks strange.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 23:33

2 Answers 2


We normally say the phone has been ringing off the hook. It is a reflexive or intransitive verb, but people would understand what you meant if you used the verb transitively.

I suspect this saying may go back to the days of early phones which had bells that vibrated when ringing. It would mean that the phone's bells have been ringing so much that the earpiece has been shaken off the hook it sits in when the phone is idle. Over the years the original meaning is forgotten and the phrase becomes a set phrase. Early phone terminology is still used in VoIP.


First, the proposed sentence seems to imply that multiple phones are on one hook. To be correct, you need hooks.

Second, the idiom generally refers to multiple calls to one phone, one person, or one office. It does not refer to multiple calls from one person. So it is unlikely that the idiom expresses what you intend.


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