Rain Check

An American idiom in use since the late 1800’s.

Also:

Give a rain check
Take a rain check

Meaning of Rain Check

rain check is a promise that an offer that cannot be accepted now will be extended in the future. To take a rain check is to promise to accept the offer later, and to give a rain check is to promise to renew an offer later.


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When used in regards to business, a rain check is a physical piece of paper used when items on sale are sold out. The rain check entitles a customer to come back and buy the item at the sale price when it is back in stock, even though the sale is over. The same term can be used for services.

Used among individuals, in a casual sense, no actual piece of paper exchanges hand, so the offer of a ‘rain check’ is figurative, meaning a promise to renew an offer later.

Examples Of Use

“I’d love to go to lunch with you but I have too much work to do. Can I take a rain check?”

“Sorry you missed my show yesterday. Rain check?”

“I was going to go out with that girl I met but I had to take a rain check.”

Brooklyn Bridegrooms baseball team, aka Brooklyn Grays, aka Brooklyn Dodgers
The Brooklyn Bridegrooms baseball team, in the days of baseball rain checks, 1889. Began as the Brooklyn Grays in 1883, became the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1895

Origin

The term rain check comes from baseball, during the 1880’s. When a game was postponed or ended early due to bad weather, spectators were given a rain check entitling them to admission to a future game. By the 1900’s, this term began to be used for tickets to all kinds of entertainment, and later was transferred to retail business, meaning a coupon which entitled a customer to be an on-sale but out of stock item at the same price at a later date, as above.

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