Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun \ˈchek\

Definition of check

  1. 1 :  exposure of a chess king to an attack from which he must be protected or moved to safety

  2. 2 a :  a sudden stoppage of a forward course or progress :  arrest b :  a checking of an opposing player (as in ice hockey)

  3. 3 :  a sudden pause or break in a progression

  4. 4 archaic :  reprimand, rebuke

  5. 5 :  one that arrests, limits, or restrains :  restraint <against all checks, rebukes, and manners, I must advance — Shakespeare>

  6. 6 a :  a standard for testing and evaluation :  criterion b :  examination <a quick check of the engine> c :  inspection, investigation <a loyalty check on government employees> d :  the act of testing or verifying; also :  the sample or unit used for testing or verifying

  7. 7 :  a written order directing a bank to pay money as instructed :  draft

  8. 8 a :  a ticket or token showing ownership or identity or indicating payment made <a baggage check> b :  a counter in various games c :  a slip indicating the amount due :  bill

  9. 9 [Middle English chek, short for cheker checker] a :  a pattern in squares that resembles a checkerboard b :  a fabric woven or printed with such a design

  10. 10 :  a mark typically √ placed beside an item to show it has been noted, examined, or verified

  11. 11 :  crack, break

check·less play \ˈche-kləs\ adjective
in check
  1. :  under restraint or control <trying to keep his emotions in check>

Examples of check

  1. Please give the schedule a check to see if the times are correct.

  2. I gave the ingredients list a quick check to see if the cereal contained any sugar.

  3. She ran a quick check of the computer to make sure it was working properly.

  4. The police ran a check on the license plate and found out that the car had been stolen.

  5. He was penalized for an illegal check.

  6. He made out the check to me and signed it, and I deposited it in my account.

  7. Do you want to pay in cash, by check, or by credit card?

  8. a fabric with a blue and yellow check

Origin of check

Middle English chek, from Anglo-French eschec, from Arabic shāh, from Persian, literally, king; akin to Greek ktasthai to acquire, Sanskrit kṣatra dominion

First Known Use: 15th century

Rhymes with check




Simple Definition of check

  • : to look at (something) carefully to find mistakes, problems, etc., or to make sure there is nothing wrong with it

  • : to get information by looking at something, asking about something, etc.

  • : to look at or in (a place) in order to find or get something or someone

Full Definition of check

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to put (a chess king) in check

  3. 2 chiefly dialect :  rebuke, reprimand

  4. 3 a :  to slow or bring to a stop :  brake <hastily checked the impulse> b :  to block the progress of (as a hockey player)

  5. 4 a :  to restrain or diminish the action or force of :  control b :  to slack or ease off and then belay again (as a rope)

  6. 5 a :  to compare with a source, original, or authority :  verify <needs to check her facts> b :  to inspect, examine, or look at appraisingly —usually used with out or over <checking out new cars> c :  to mark with a check as examined, verified, or satisfactory —often used with off <checked off each item>

  7. 6 a :  to consign (as luggage) to a common carrier from which one has purchased a passenger ticket <checked our bags before boarding> b :  to ship or accept for shipment under such a consignment

  8. 7 :  to mark into squares :  checker

  9. 8 :  to leave or accept for safekeeping in a checkroom <check a coat>

  10. 9 :  to make checks or chinks :  cause to crack <the sun checks timber>

  11. intransitive verb
  12. 1 a of a dog :  to stop in a chase especially when scent is lost b :  to halt through caution, uncertainty, or fear :  stop

  13. 2 a :  to investigate conditions <checked on the passengers' safety> b :  to prove to be consistent or truthful <the description checks with the photograph> —often used with out <the story checked out>

  14. 3 :  to draw a check on a bank

  15. 4 :  to waive the right to initiate the betting in a round of poker

  16. 5 :  crack, split

check into
  1. 1 :  to check in at <check into a hotel>

  2. 2 :  investigate <the police are checking into his alibi>

check up on
  1. :  investigate <check up on a possible investment>

Examples of check

  1. Make sure to check your spelling.

  2. She checked her makeup in the mirror.

  3. We should check the equipment to make sure that it's working properly.

  4. The guards checked my passport.

  5. He checked his watch and saw that it was almost noon.

  6. I'll just check the map to see where we are.

  7. I'll check the newspaper to see when the movie starts.

  8. If you're looking for a spoon, check the top drawer.

  9. I checked his office but he wasn't there.

  10. If you're looking for the umbrella, check in the closet.

14th Century

First Known Use of check

14th century

Synonym Discussion of check

restrain, check, curb, bridle mean to hold back from or control in doing something. restrain suggests holding back by force or persuasion from acting or from going to extremes <restrained themselves from laughing>. check implies restraining or impeding a progress, activity, or impetus <trying to check government spending>. curb suggests an abrupt or drastic checking <learn to curb your appetite>. bridle implies keeping under control by subduing or holding in <bridle an impulse to throw the book down>.




Definition of check

  1. —used to express assent or agreement

CHECK Defined for Kids



noun \ˈchek\

Definition of check

  1. 1 :  a sudden stopping of progress :  pause <The anchor gave a check to the ship's motion.>

  2. 2 :  something that delays, stops, or holds back <The new penalty will serve as a check on pollution.>

  3. 3 :  examination 1, investigation <a safety check>

  4. 4 :  a written order telling a bank to pay out money from a person's account to the one named on the order

  5. 5 :  a ticket or token showing a person's ownership, identity, or claim to something <a baggage check>

  6. 6 :  a slip of paper showing the amount due

  7. 7 :  a pattern in squares <The shirt has a blue and red check.>

  8. 8 :  a mark √ typically placed beside a written or printed item to show that something has been specially noted

  9. 9 :  an act of hitting or stopping a player in hockey

  10. 10 :  a situation in chess in which a player's king can be captured on the opponent's next turn

in check
  1. :  under control <Try to keep your emotions in check.>




Definition of check


  1. 1 :  to slow or bring to a stop <A bandage checked the bleeding.> <The batter checked his swing.>

  2. 2 :  to hold back or under control <You must check your temper.>

  3. 3 :  to make sure that something is correct or satisfactory <Don't forget to check your spelling.> <I'll have to check the time with my mom.>

  4. 4 :  to get information by examining <He checked his watch.>

  5. 5 :  to mark with a check <Check the correct answer.>

  6. 6 :  to leave or accept for safekeeping or for shipment <check baggage>

  7. 7 :  to stop or hit (a player) in hockey

check out
  1. 1 :  to look at <Check out his new car.>

  2. 2 :  to borrow from a library <She checked out two books.>

  3. 3 :  to pay for purchases

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up check? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

16.96 pounds 2.2 pounds 100 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.