be called out and answer for herself

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "be called out and answer for herself" means in the following sentences:

“Oh, I can see that Archie is getting everything he needs,” Madge answered, not bothering to hide her snide smirk behind her cigarette.

I’d been willing to put aside her remarks the first time but not twice. Twice, she had to be called out and answer for herself. “What are you getting at, Madge?”

- Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Part One, Chapter Twenty-Three

This is a mystery novel published in the United States in 2020. The story is mainly set at the present time in 1926, when Agatha Christie suddenly went missing for eleven days, but also goes back to the past time in the 1910's. In this scene, set in 1921, the narrator Agatha is at her mother's house Ashfield over Christmas to meet her older sister Madge. When Agatha says that she had struck a happy balance between her writing and house management, Madge is implying at the fact that Agatha might be stretched a little thin while attempting to manage the house and to write novels simultaneously.

In this part, I wonder what "be called out and answer for herself" would mean.

(1) Would "be called out" mean "to be called by one's name so that one might appear"? Or would it mean perhaps "be challenged/confronted to a fight"...?

(2) By "answer for oneself," would that mean "to take responsibility for one's action"? Or "to explain/speak on behalf of oneself"...?

There seem to be so many meanings to choose from for these idioms, so I just wanted to ask you.

call out
answer for

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The grammar is a bit iffy; I would have said "Twice, she had to be called out and had to answer for herself." "She had to be confronted and made to explain herself" seems to be the idea here.

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear The Newt,

    Thank you very much for the clear explanation.
    So she had to be "confronted (=called out)" and "explain herself (=answer for herself)"!

    In that case, I guess the two idioms might have the following meanings in the links:

    3. To confront one about one's misdeeds or unpleasant behavior. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "call" and "out."

    answer for - furnish a justifying analysis or explanation; "I can't account for the missing money"

    I sincerely appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)