Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A ticket stub entitling the holder to admission to a future event if the scheduled event is canceled because of rain.
  • n. An assurance to a customer that an item on sale that is sold out or out of stock may be purchased later at the sale price.
  • n. A promise that an unaccepted offer will be renewed in the future: declined the invitation to dinner, but asked for a rain check.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any voucher or note from a merchant to a customer to provide an item the merchant has run out of at a later date for the item's current price, or (in a more literal sense) to provide a service at a later date.
  • n. In social interactions, a polite way to turn down an invitation, with the implication one is simply postponing it and that another time would be acceptable.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a promise that an unaccepted offer will be renewed in the future
  • n. a ticket stub entitling the holder to admission to a future event if the scheduled event was cancelled due to rain

Etymologies

The expression may have originated in the era of open-air markets where the occurrence of significant rain usually required a vendor to pack up their goods and leave. The term may also be based on the issuing of tickets to claim property such as a coat or hat check. Before 1889, US baseball fans were issued a new ticket if rain was heavy enough to cause a game to be postponed. Abner Powell added a detachable stub called a rain check that year. This quickly became a standard practice for all major league teams. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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