Check, Please

Meaning:

Being in an uncomfortable or awkward situation that you want to leave.

Example: Frank was at a friend’s house having dinner with him and his wife. Half-way through the meal, the two of them started arguing and Frank was caught in the middle of it. An uncomfortable situation to be in, for sure. As the couple bickered back and forth, Frank thought to himself: ‘check, please.’

In other words, Frank wanted to leave that awkward situation.
Synonyms / Related Phrases:
None.

The Origin Of ‘Check, Please’

The origin of this phrase is not clear, but it seems likely that ‘check, please’ originated from restaurants or eateries. You will often hear this phrase used at such places because it is a way people ask for their bill. Someone who says it is basically saying they are done with their food and they want to pay and leave.

So how old is this phrase? It goes back to at least the early 20th century. For example, there’s a part in The Australian Town and Country Journal newspaper, May 1905, that reads:

‘Will you give me my check, please?’ The sound of her voice, breaking upon his ear, aroused Charteris from his reverie. He looked up quickly, and saw that she was speaking to the waitress. It was a common-place enough remark, but the weariness of her tone did not escape him.

Okay, but what about the phrase’s idiomatic meaning of ‘wanting to leave an awkward situation’? Yes, when did it start to be used as an idiom? Well, it’s tough to say because every occurrence I found of it had it being used in an ‘asking for a bill’ sense. If I ever do find a quote of it being used as an idiom, I’ll update this page.


Example Sentences

  • I was at the theater with a friend watching a movie, but it was so bad I leaned over and said ‘check, please‘ to him because I wanted to leave.

Note: The origin of many popular sayings are unknown. If that happens, what you might see on the phrase’s page is a theory that talks about how it possibly originated. However, if no theories are listed, you should still be able to find the earliest known quote of the phrase being used in print. These quotes give you an idea on how old it is.

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