What Does Check, Please! Mean?

Check, Please! Meaning 

Definition: An informal way to ask for the bill at a restaurant.

The phrase “check, please” is an informal way to ask for the bill at a restaurant. The origin of this phrase is unclear, although its first recorded use was in the mid-19th century. This phrase is most commonly used in American English.

Origin of Check, Please!

Can I have the check pleaseThis phrase is not a verb phrase like many idioms in English, but rather a noun phrase. Check here is a noun that refers to a restaurant bill. It is unclear when check was first used to refer to the bill at a restaurant. One of the first recorded uses of check in this context was in Adeline Dutton Whitney’s 1869 novel, Patience Strong’s Outings: “I let her settle for the dinner checks.”

It is speculated that check, meaning restaurant bill, originated from a few potential sources. It is thought to have evolved from the term check as it is used in chess. It may have also derived from another, more literal meaning of check, which is to ensure, or check, for accuracy on a document.

During the 19th century, around the same time check was first used in this context, diners at restaurants would check their coats and hats and were given a slip of paper acknowledging receipt. Although its exact etymology is unknown, this is perhaps the most plausible explanation of its origin.

Examples of Check, Please!

 Waiter check pleaseCheck, please is more commonly used in American English. In British English, it is called a bill rather than a check. Britons may say bill, please in the same context.

The example conversation below illustrates the correct use of this phrase.

Patty: Whew, I’m stuffed.

Michael: I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Patty: I’m ready to go when you are.

Michael (upon seeing the waiter): Check, please.

More Examples


The English phrase check, please is an informal way to request the bill at a restaurant.