Rain Check – Idiom, Slang & Meaning

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Is it rain check or raincheck? Or, heck, even rain cheque? Regardless of the spelling, the phrase is used to describe something you have to cancel and plan for later. It’s also something a store or event venue can hand out when something is canceled. But let’s discuss the proper way to use the term and show you phrases with rain check in them.

What Does Rain Check Mean?

Grammarist Article Graphic V5 30

It’s basically a polite way of turning down someone’s offer to do something or spend time with you. If a person asks if you want to go for coffee later but are unsure of your schedule, you could say, “I’d love to, but I’ll, unfortunately, have to take a rain check.” It just means you can’t right now, but you will some other time.

But it also has a literal meaning when talking about a sale item being unavailable or an event being canceled. A few weeks ago, my local grocery store had a crazy sale on canned soup for $0.99 each. I had planned to stock up because my kids love tomato soup, but when I arrived, there was a delay in shipping, and they didn’t have any stock, so they gave me a rain check. With that, I was able to get my soup at a later date, even passed the end of the sale.

What’s the Origin of the Phrase Rain Check?

The common phrase was coined back in the 1880s for baseball games held in outdoor stadiums. When a game was canceled due to poor weather, people were given rain checks to use for a later game.

Is It Rain Check or Raincheck?

Rain Check vs Raincheck Ngram
Rain check and raincheck usage trend.

While you will definitely see the single-word raincheck used often, it’s actually incorrect. Yes, it’s still acceptable, and most people wouldn’t even tell the difference, but if you want to be correct, use the two-word version rain check.

Rain Check Meaning Slang

While it has a formal and informal meaning, you can take it one step further and use it figuratively. Like, “I’ll have to take a rain check on the coming apocalypse; I have homework to do.” It’s obvious you can’t take a rain check or even put off something like the apocalypse, but it’s a funny, slang way of using the phrase.

Take a Rain Check Synonyms

  • Can we do it later?
  • We’ll have to plan for another time.
  • Let’s reschedule for the near future.

How Do You Say Take a Rain Check?

Seeing rain check in a sentence can help you understand how to use this idiomatic phrase properly.

  • Can I take a rain check on that coffee?
  • The store didn’t even have the soup that was on sale, but they gave me a rain check.
  • I’m so bummed that the Harry Styles concert was canceled due to heavy rains. But they gave everyone a rain check for the next concert.
  • We’ll have to get a rain check on that date because I have to work.
  • Green beans have a low sale price, but the store’s all out, so I got a rain check.

Take a Rain Check

That’s rain checks in a nutshell. So, just remember, you can use it figuratively and literally, and always use the two-word spelling. Also, never use rain cheques, not even in Canada or the UK. Sure, it’s acceptable and easy to see what it means, but it’s incorrect.

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: