Butt-dialing has become so commonplace that in recent years the verb’s definition was recently added to the Oxford Dictionary:
[WITH OBJECT]US informal
Inadvertently call (someone) on a mobile phone in one's rear pants pocket, as a result of pressure being accidentally applied to a button or buttons on the phone.
‘I have had several people butt-dial me, from former girlfriends to my brother’
The accidental practice is embarrassing for the culprit and annoying to the recipient listening to ambient noise inside someone’s clothing or purse.
The danger is in accidentally calling 9-1-1. “The last thing you really want to do is accidentally call 9-1-1 by having your phone automatically jostle in your pocket or purse,” says Michael Garfield, host of The High Tech Texan heard in Houston on iHeartRadio’s KPRC AM 950. Emergency operators say butt dialing, also known as pocket dialing, is a waste of resources, and there are claims it accounts for as many as half of all emergency calls.
Garfield says always be sure to close any open programs on a smartphone or tablet, and lock down your device before putting it away. He suggests a password or passcode requirement to ensure there are no embarrassing moments created by butt dials.