The Meaning of Rain Check: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of rain check? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the term rain check, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the phrase rain check mean?

According to Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the term rain check is a noun that can refer either to the physical ticket stub that one can use to attend a later performance or exhibition when the one that is scheduled is rained out, or it can refer to the promise of some deferred offer. For the former definition, a rain check ticket guarantees the purchaser admission to a show or performance at a future date because the concert or other kinds of entertainment were postponed due to bad weather. This is usually for an unspecified time, but guaranteed future admission. This can also refer to simply rescheduling something for a future date. For example, if you were set to have dinner with a colleague but they can no longer make it, they might ask, “Could we do a rain check for dinner Tuesday? I can’t make that date anymore.” This is a polite way to reschedule a currently scheduled event for a future event. This is standard practice in business. This term is often also spelled raincheck, rain-check, or rain cheque. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean rain check or postponement. While not a lot of languages use the same idiom, many have phrases that mean the same thing. It is useful to know different translations for terms such as rain check if you are traveling to a foregin country or if you are communicating with someone who does not speak English. This list of translations for the term rain check is provided by Word Sense

  • Finnish: siirtäminen‎
  • Portuguese: atraso‎, demora‎ (fem.), mora‎ (fem.)
  • Telugu: ఆలస్యము‎
  • Irish: faillí‎ (fem.)
  • Hungarian: késedelem‎, késés‎
  • Slovak: sklz‎ (masc.)
  • Hindi: देर‎, विलंब‎
  • Urdu: دیر‎
  • Maori: akutōtanga‎
  • Arabic: تَأْخِير‎ (masc.), تَأَخَّر‎ (masc.)
  • Spanish: retraso‎, demora‎ (fem.)
  • Scottish Gaelic: dàil‎ (fem.)
  • Bulgarian: отлагане‎ (neut.), забавяне‎ (neut.), закъснение‎ (neut.)
  • Japanese: お預け‎ (おあずけ, o-azuke), 延期‎ (えんき, enki)
  • Hebrew: איחור‎
  • Mandarin: 改天‎ (gǎitiān)
  • Italian: ritardo‎ (masc.)
  • Dutch: tegoedhoudertje‎ (neut.), uitstel maar geen afstel‎
  • Turkish: gecikme‎, rötar‎
  • Catalan: retard‎ (masc.), demora‎ (fem.), endarreriment‎ (masc.)
  • Sorani: دواخستن‎, پاشخستن‎
  • Swedish: försening‎ (common), fördröjning‎ (common), uppskov‎ (neut.)
  • Icelandic: töf‎ (fem.)
  • Polish: opóźnienie‎
  • Romanian: întârziere‎ (fem.)
  • French: délai‎ (masc.), retard‎ (masc.)
  • Russian: утеши́тельный тало́н‎ (masc.)
  • German: Verschieben auf später‎ (neut.)
  • Czech: zpoždění‎ (neut.)

What is the origin of the term rain check?

According to The Idioms, the phrase rain check originated in the United States in the 1880s. This was used in reference to baseball games. If there was heavy rain and a baseball game had to be postponed, the people who had tickets to the match were given a rain check voucher to attend a different match as a later date. This detachable stub was used frequently in the era of open-air markets when the occurrence of significant rain frequently cancelled games. 

What are synonyms and antonyms for the term rain check?

There are many different words and phrases that can be used in place of the term rain check. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another given word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself as well as if you are looking to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the term rain check is provided by Thesaurus

  • reserved ticket
  • obstruction
  • delay
  • lag
  • surcease
  • check
  • promise
  • filibuster
  • lingering
  • hold-up
  • logjam
  • retardation
  • procrastination
  • tarrying
  • putting off
  • adjournment
  • hangup
  • demurral
  • respite
  • stop
  • jam
  • stay
  • hindrance
  • reprieve
  • moratorium
  • postponement
  • problem
  • impediment
  • loitering
  • dawdling
  • setback
  • showstopper
  • bind
  • stall
  • remission
  • cunctation
  • downtime
  • stoppage
  • retardment
  • suspension
  • cooling-off period
  • deferring
  • wait
  • discontinuation
  • interval
  • holding pattern
  • assurance
  • holding
  • deferment
  • pause
  • prorogation
  • tie-up
  • detention

There are also numerous different words and phrases that have the opposite meaning of the term rain check. These are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the term rain check is also provided by Thesaurus

  • development
  • growth
  • passage
  • improvement
  • expedition
  • amelioration
  • headway
  • course
  • flowering
  • unfolding
  • voyage
  • stride
  • way
  • break
  • impetus
  • ongoing
  • motion
  • betterment
  • increase
  • progression
  • advance
  • tour
  • march
  • promotion
  • movement
  • evolution
  • proficiency
  • pace
  • advancement
  • anabasis
  • breakthrough
  • rise
  • procession
  • progress
  • buildup
  • momentum
  • dash
  • hike
  • boost
  • evolvement
  • step forward
  • lunge
  • process
  • rate
  • journey

How can the term rain check be used in a sentence?

The term rain check can be used to refer to any sort of rescheduling or postponement that a person needs to initiate for an event. In this example, Riley and Abby were supposed to have dinner on Friday night. Riley texts Abby.

Riley: Hey Abby, I’m so sorry, but can we do a rain check for dinner tomorrow? My boss just told me I have to go with him to this event. I’m so sorry.

Abby: No problem at all! I’m free all weekend, let me know what works for you!

Riley: Great! How about Sunday brunch?

Abby: Perfect!

Here, Riley and Abby schedule a rain check for their dinner plans since Riley had unexpected plans pop up that she cannot get out of. In this next example, Riley and Abby were supposed to go to a concert at an outdoor amphitheater, but it is raining outside.

Riley: Do you think they’re going to cancel? I hope we get our money back.

Abby: I’m sure they will. Oh! I just got an email. Yep, we can choose to get a refund or do a rain check for a concert later in the summer. Let me know if you want to go to any of these!

Overall, the phrase rain check refers to some delay or postponement of  a scheduled event, either due to weather or other circumstances. This idiom came from baseball games in the late 1800s and is still used frequently in the modern day.