rain check

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See also: raincheck


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1877 US in baseball;[1] metaphorical usage from 1896, more generally from 1930.[2] Since at least 1870, baseball teams would reissue tickets in case of postponement due to rain, which became known as rain checks.


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rain check (plural rain checks)

Rain check at CVS, shown below the empty shelf for the sold-out item
  1. (idiomatic) Any voucher or note from a merchant to a customer to provide an item the merchant has run out of at a later date for the item's current price, or (in a more literal sense) to provide a service at a later date.
    • 1877, Chicago Times, July 8, 1877:[1]
      The St. Louis club is the only nine in the league which gives its patrons the right to see a full game or no pay. In Chicago and other cities, after the first inning is interrupted by rain the spectators are supposed to have received their money’s worth. In St. Louis ‘rain checks’ are issued in such cases.
    • 1896, Caduceus of Kappa Sigma, volume 11, p. 305
      [Regarding visiting the Indianapolis, Indiana chapter of the fraternity Kappa Sigma] … if in any respect the affair does not suit you—call at the box office and you’ll get your money back or get a rain check, just as you please.
  2. (idiomatic) In social interactions, a polite way to turn down an invitation, with the implication one is simply postponing it and that another time would be acceptable.
    I can't go with you to the museum this Saturday, but can I take a rain check and go some other day?



  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter Morris, A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, 15.1.3 Rain Checks, pp. 411–412
  2. ^ John A. Simpson and Edward S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “rain check”, in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN.