Glossary definition of Answering machine

Answering machine is a device that automatically answers a telephone call when the recipient is for some reason unable to answer it personally. Typically, a user stores an outgoing message to tell callers that the phone cannot be answered personally, and the caller is then requested to leave a recorded message stating the purpose of their call, which the user can playback at a convenient time.

Conventional landline answering machines often use magnetic tape or a microchip memory to record messages. Some mobile handsets are capable of storing messages in their internal memory, and most mobile operators provide an answering service whereby subscribers can dial a special number and listen to their stored messages.