I used to think 'call a taxi' means calling a taxi using phone or cell phone app. On the other hand, on the street, it seems I have to hail a taxi than call a taxi. Is this suitable usage?

1 Answer 1


Technically yes, you're right. Hailing a taxi involves standing on the street and trying to get their attention with your arms or similar. Calling a taxi probably involves using a phone (though if there was a taxi rank nearby that you could call out - i.e. shout - to, that would be a suitable use of the phrase too).

That said, "hailing" is a fairly specific word that not everyone uses. If someone uses "call a taxi", I wouldn't be surprised if they then go and hail a taxi. So if (for some reason) you need to be absolutely explicit that you are using a phone instead of going onto the street, you'll need to make this clear (e.g. "I don't think I'll have much luck hailing a taxi at this time, I'll call one instead").

Colloquially, you're likely to hear any number of acquire-type verbs used to refer to making a taxi turn up: "I'll get us a taxi", "I'll grab us a taxi", "I'll summon a taxi", etc. These definitely don't say anything about the method used, and just refer to the result.

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    People in Britain used to shout "Taxi!" in a loud voice if they saw an empty taxi, and the driver would hear that and pull over. This would be 'calling' a taxi. Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 12:01
  • Hail is not a word I would think of using here: I recognise the expression hail a taxi, but I associate it with the middle of the last century I didnt know anybody still used the expression.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 12:11
  • Interesting - I consider "hail" to still be the correct, current term; it's used by Transport for London for example. For the situation that @MichaelHarvey describes in particular, I would definitely describe that as hailing a taxi (and in Britain we still do shout for taxis, FWIW). Clearly though it's not universal and one can expect variance depending on setting. Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 12:45
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    There is a legal significance in the UK attached to "Taxi" and "hail". A taxi is a car which the driver has a licence that allows you to hail him/her on the street. Other types of cab can be pre-booked, but are not legally taxis and can't be hailed. This distinction might apply in some other places, but not everywhere.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 16:25

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