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I have been studying English by reading The Avengers script. Here are two passages.

  1. The Avengers look up, watching as more Leviathans and hundreds of warriors fly through the portal.
    — Natasha: G... Guys?
    — Stark: Call it, Captain.
    — Captain: All right, listen up. [blah blah]

    Seeing that Captain starts ordering each of them, does call it mean "order it"? In any case I don't see what "it" means here. Could you explain this to me?

  2. — Fury: Agent Coulson is down.
    — Other: A medical team is on its way to your location.
    — Fury: They're here. They called it.
    — All: ...

    When Fury says "they called it", I guess it maybe means "they said he is dead already". Call = "say", it = "death"? Did I understand right?

    Also, can down mean "dead"? When my father passed away, can I say "my father was down" instead?

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  1. On of the meanings of making the call means deciding between various possibilities, usually after being presented with some incomplete data, and since he's the commander "making a decision" = "giving orders".

  2. Another related instance where this meaning is used is when a patient dies and the doctor has to write the time of death - in this case the doctors calls it, meaning he is declaring the patient dead.

  3. "Down" does not necessarily mean dead, it just means in a lower state. Someone can be downed/ knocked down/brought down with a punch (he could be dead but that is irrelevant). So no, you cannot say your father is down.

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The first instance represents a shortened form of "call the play". This term derives from American Football where it refers to when a team is told what they're going to (attempt to) do after the next restart - the person who decides this is usually either the coach or the quarterback. Colloquially, it can refer to taking ownership of a decision and making it. In the context, "it" is "the play", ie the strategy that the Avengers will use to deal with the situation.

Your interpretation of the second instance is correct - it derives from the formal requirement of medical professionals to make a note of the time of death for patients they've been treating - more fully: "they've called the time of death".

As per msam's answer, "down" doesn't necessarily mean dead, it could just mean "out of operation", it's commonly applied to people who have been shot and are incapacitated.

  • Good answer for the first scene, but the second one comes from medical jargon, calling a code or time of death. – Bradd Szonye Apr 11 '14 at 18:35
  • Yes, I can see that now that you point it out – bruised reed Apr 11 '14 at 18:37
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There are a number of idiomatic phrases involving "calling" something, which means to make a declaration. The phrase that springs to my mind is "call it a day", which means to declare that something is over or should finish. There is also the similar phrase "call time on [something]" which also means to declare that something specific should now end.

In your examples, asking someone to "call it" is a recommendation that something should finish. It also implies that the one being asked has the responsibility or the authority to make that call.

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