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Check vs. cheque

In American English, check is the standard spelling of the noun referring to a written order for a bank to pay a specified amount from deposited funds. Outside the U.S., the word is spelled cheque. But cheque is confined to this very narrow banking-related sense. All varieties of English use check for the many non-banking-related senses of the word—including (1) a restraint, (2) a pattern of small squares, (3) to halt, and (3) to inspect for accuracy or correctness.

Examples

In American English, the word for the piece of paper representing a specified amount of money is check—for example:

He later received a check for 100 pounds from John Lennon in reimbursement. [Miami Herald]

So he wrote a check for $20,000 and returned to his life in New York. [New York Times]

Outside the U.S., it’s cheque—for example:

If an organisation is open and keen to invite a client to engage beyond their cheque book, a relationship of trust is developed. [Guardian]

The charges relate to the use of a bank card and cheque book over an eight-year period. [New Zealand Herald]

And throughout the English-speaking world, check is used for all senses of the word unrelated to banking—for example:

On Monday an 88-year-old Chifley resident was targeted by a man claiming he was there to check the sewerage. [The Canberra Times]

But when she tried to check in with US Airways, the airline demanded a further $60 to check in her bags. [Telegraph]

It seems he wants to keep his bravado in check. [Toronto Star]

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Comments

  1. King_Hermy says:

    American english is nothing but rubbish.
    Cheque is the real way to say it.

    Oh look, “Check her out at the bank. Bye email you later.”
    *Later…*
    “When will you pay my money?”

    “What money?”

    “The one you wrote an email for telling me to give send her the check at the bank!”

    “No, i didn’t mean cheque, as in the proper way of saying it. I meant check her out”

    “Oh gee, American english has cost me $700,000 and i am now unemployed”

    -__-

  2. chequered career or checkered career?

    • the same as with the word “cheque”. In Britain, it’s “chequered”; in the US, it’s “checkered”

      • No. You are completely wrong. Read the definition again: ‘But cheque is confined to this very narrow banking-related sense. All varieties of English use check for the many non-banking-related senses of the word—including (1) a restraint, (2) a pattern of small squares, (3) to halt, and (3) to inspect for accuracy or correctness.’

        • Velvet Android says:

          This article is slightly too prescriptive, in fact — in British English you can use “chequerboard”, “chequered flag” etc. for things with a pattern of black and white squares, and metaphorically for “chequered past” etc., i.e. deriving from the same sense of having light and dark elements. The odd thing is that such a pattern is still referred to as “checks”.
          The odder thing is that despite all this the board game itself does not involve a chequerboard OR checkerboard, as it’s not called chequers/checkers here — it’s called draughts, pronounced “drafts”. So it’s a draughtsboard. Or a draughtboard. This is never spelled “drafts”, though, the difference from which is a whole other kettle of fish. But NOT a ‘whole nother’ one…

  3. suck the skin right off my dick

  4. Most annoying. This did not answer what I had hoped: Is it Traveler’s Cheque or Traveler’s Check? A quick look at the American Express pictures show “American Express Travelers Cheque” on the top. No apostrophe and the alternate spelling for an “American” product. So now I’m more confused than ever.

    • Scott Bain says:

      In the United States of America it’s a travellers check, but the rest of the world would spell it travellers cheque. So if you buy a travellers check in the United States, it would have to be spelled CHEQUE so that the rest of the world knows what it is.

  5. Check the check; or check the cheque?

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