We know that many people interchange the words 'crank' and 'prank' when it comes to practical jokes over the phone and that's okay. For many just it's semantics, especially depending on what word you learned growing up.

However, if you want to be technical about it there's a big difference according to the Prime Pranks website so let's take a deeper dive.

/Jupiterimages/kumpan electric
/Jupiterimages/kumpan electric


Prank phone calls are almost always kids or teens having fun on the phone anonymously. After a couple of calls, the kids move on. Pranks can also happen in person between friends, on April Fool's Day, between family members, or among co-workers. Pranks as phone calls or in person are meant as light-hearted, harmless fun where everyone is laughing and smiling at the end (hopefully).

The recipient of a prank may even start plotting humorous revenge on the prankster. In-person can be anonymous with the jokester eventually revealing themselves or you know who the prankster is the entire time, just not that the prank is immediately happening.

Highwaystarz-Photography/Tero Vesalainen/Getty


A crank phone call is not funny but rather intended to be scary, antagonizing, and even intimidating. Repeated crank phone calls are meant to harass the person on the other end of the phone and aren't in person but always on the phone.

These nefarious calls tend to come from teens well into adulthood with malicious reasons behind them, and according to The Content Authority website, tend to be obsessive and extreme to the point of threatening. This is when law enforcement needs to get involved.

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