rain check

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Alternative forms[edit]


1877 US in baseball;[1] metaphorical usage from 1896, more generally from 1930.[2] From 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 (sense 2.1.1) at CVS, shown below the empty shelf for the sold-out item
  1. (originally) A reissue, at no extra charge, of a ticket for a baseball game or other outdoor event postponed or interrupted because of rain.
    • 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.
  2. (figurative) An agreement to honor a current offer after its normal expiration.
    1. (idiomatic) A voucher or other promise from a merchant to a customer:
      1. to provide a sold-out item or temporarily unavailable service at a later date for the running (usually special) price.
      2. (less commonly) to make good on any experience that the customer deems unsatisfactory.
        • 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 deferred invitation, or deferred acceptance of an invitation.
      I can't go with you to the museum this Saturday, but can I take a rain check and go some other day?

Derived terms[edit]



  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 Edmund S. C. Weiner, editors (1989), “rain check”, in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN.