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?


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.

  • 2
    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. Jun 8 '20 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
    Jun 8 '20 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. Jun 8 '20 at 12:45
  • 2
    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
    Jun 8 '20 at 16:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.