butt dial / pocket dial

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butt dial / pocket dial

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:39 am

<2013 “Two burglars accidentally ‘butt-dialed’ 911 enabling police dispatchers to listen in as they allegedly broke into a car. . . . After being arrested, one suspect said, ‘This phone really dialed 911? Damn.’”—The Week, 31 May, page 10>
BUTT DIAL / BUTT-DIAL (also POCKET DIAL / POCKET-DIAL): The butt dial and pocket dial get their names from the fact that cell phones are frequently carried in back pockets (now applies also to any pocket, handbag, etc.) where stored phone numbers are sometimes accidentally triggered by sitting, bumping or other forms of contact (see Wikipedia).

My first thought was that these were fairly obscure expressions. However, butt dial/dialing and pocket dial/dialing garner about a half million and a few hundred thousand Google hits respectively, which is a reasonably healthy showing.

The following quotes are from archived sources:

[Well here’s a first. I’m actually providing quotes (see 2004 and 2005 below) from the infamous Urban Dictionary – regrettably, they were the earliest examples I could find.] (>:)
<2004 “butt dial: When your cell phone accidentally calls someone you did not mean to while on your person. I called her a fucktard. She heard cause my phone butt dialed her.>”—Urban Dictionary, 16 January>

<2005 “pocket-dial: When a person's cell phone/blackberry located in a pocket accidentally dials someone, unbeknowst to the person carrying it. The receipient [sic] of the call usually receives a very annoying, long and potentially incriminating message.<I swear I didn't call you at 2:30am last night-- my phone must have pocket-dialed your number.>”—Urban Dictionary, 15 November>

<2007 “I like the simplicity and small form of a candy-bar phone, but many people want flip phones because they either don't like to have the screen pressed up against their faces or they don't want to inadvertently pocket-dial someone.”—Newsweek, 3 December>

<2010 “Everyone's done it - the infamous ‘Butt Dial’: Your cell phone's in your pocket, you sit on it, it dials some random number in your phone book and the recipient of the call is treated to a long eavesdropping session as you go about your business, blissfully unaware that it is all being broadcast!”—Boston Herald (Massachusetts), 16 March>

<2012 “Thousands of pocket-dialed calls [[to 911]] are tying up emergency phone lines and threatening public safety, . . . Police launched a campaign Monday encouraging cellphone users to ‘lock it before they pocket’ to combat the growing number of accidental calls. Toronto police received 107,000 pocket dials last year, which occur when a button on a cellphone programmed to call 911 is inadvertently hit while the device is stored in a pant pocket or purse.”—CTV News (Toronto, Canada), 9 January>

Ken G – June 1, 2013

Re: butt dial / pocket dial

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:27 pm

A bum rap?

Re: butt dial / pocket dial

Post by hsargent » Mon Jun 03, 2013 12:24 am

I assume this does not happen with iPhones and the other screen keyboard types. Will this expression die?

It has to do with having using an Address Book in the phone and not locking the keyboard. I have a sister-in-law who did not use her Address Book. I put a few numbers in for her I thought to help her. She experienced a Pocket Call (it may have been a Purse Call). Her answer was for me to delete the numbers from her Address Book.
Signature: Harry Sargent

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