\ˈchek \

Definition of check 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : exposure of a chess king to an attack from which he must be protected or moved to safety with his king in check

2a : a sudden stoppage of a forward course or progress : arrest the outbreak of war in 1939 gave a sudden check to the sculptor's work— Herbert Read

b : a checking of an opposing player (as in ice hockey)

3 : a sudden pause or break in a progression the invaders coming in without a check

4 archaic : reprimand, rebuke

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

6a : 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 making a check on the data also : the sample or unit used for testing or verifying

7 : a written order directing a bank to pay money as instructed : draft Do you want to pay in cash, by check, or by credit card?

8a : 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 ask the waiter for the check

9 [ Middle English chek, short for cheker checker ]

a : a pattern in squares that resembles a checkerboard bordered her plain shower curtain with a check in coordinating bathroom colors

b : a fabric woven or printed with such a design Fashionable checks come in all sizes and colors in both twill and square weaves.

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

11 : crack, break

in check

: under restraint or control trying to keep his emotions in check


checked; checking; checks

Definition of check (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to put (a chess king) in check

2 chiefly dialectal : rebuke, reprimand

3a : to slow or bring to a stop : brake hastily checked the impulse

b : to block the progress of (someone, such as a hockey player)

4a : to restrain or diminish the action or force of : control tried to thwart or check our purposes in the legislature

b : to slack or ease off (a rope) and then belay again

5a : 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

d : to look at (something) to obtain information checking a watch to see the time check a map/schedule

e : to look or reach into (something) to find what is there Harry glanced around at Fred, who was looking anxious and checking his pockets.— J. K. Rowling

f : to access (e-mail, voice mail, etc.) to find out if there are messages kept checking her voice mail throughout the day

6a : to consign (something, such 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

7 : to mark into squares : checker check the cloth

8 : to leave or accept for safekeeping in a checkroom check a coat

9 : to make checks or chinks : cause to crack the sun checks timber

intransitive verb

1a of a dog : to stop in a chase especially when scent is lost

b : to halt through caution, uncertainty, or fear : stop the train checked with a jolt— B. A. Williams

2a : 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

c : to look at or in something to see or find what is there check for messages on a cell phone

3 : to draw a check on a bank

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

5 : crack, split Drying wood can cause it to check.

check into

1 : to check in at check into a hotel

2 : investigate the police are checking into his alibi

check that

used to take back or correct a previous statement "Sir, I don't know why but there must be a foot or two of water coming down Claiborne. No, check that—three feet."— Christopher Cooper and Robert Block

check up on

: investigate check up on a possible investment



Definition of check (Entry 3 of 3)

used to express assent or agreement

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Other Words from check


checkless \ˈchek-ləs \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of check in a Sentence


Please give the schedule a check to see if the times are correct. I gave the ingredients list a quick check to see if the cereal contained any sugar. She ran a quick check of the computer to make sure it was working properly. The police ran a check on the license plate and found out that the car had been stolen. He was penalized for an illegal check. He made out the check to me and signed it, and I deposited it in my account. Do you want to pay in cash, by check, or by credit card? a fabric with a blue and yellow check


Make sure to check your spelling. She checked her makeup in the mirror. We should check the equipment to make sure that it's working properly. The guards checked my passport. He checked his watch and saw that it was almost noon. I'll just check the map to see where we are. I'll check the newspaper to see when the movie starts. If you're looking for a spoon, check the top drawer. I checked his office but he wasn't there. If you're looking for the umbrella, check in the closet.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Melhi said Monday she was charged unfairly in the case after simply calling the MVA to run a check on what turned out to be a fake ID. Colin Campbell,, "Owner appeals decision to reject medical marijuana dispensary near Pasadena," 11 July 2018 Police were responding to a request for a welfare check on a friend who had not come to work. Katy Moeller, idahostatesman, "Two dead in likely murder-suicide Thursday, Meridian police say," 6 July 2018 According to a criminal complaint: An officer pulled over Bendlin at 11:39 a.m. in the 2400 block of West College Avenue after performing a random check on a license plate. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee man charged with drunken driving for sixth time," 5 July 2018 In a related case, attorney Alex Kessel entered a not guilty plea Monday in Los Angeles for Keya Morgan, who is charged with calling 911 to report that authorities conducting a welfare check on the 95-year-old Lee were burglars. USA TODAY, "Lawyer for Stan Lee associate Keya Morgan denies elder-abuse allegations," 2 July 2018 The school district had conducted a background check on Seagraves, but found no prior convictions except an older driving under the influence conviction, according to district spokesman Alex Barrios. Diana Lambert And Darrell Smith, sacbee, "Former high school coach pleads no contest to human trafficking, gets 13-year sentence," 27 June 2018 Some examples include depositing a check on your banking app, putting spare shoes by the door away, and filling up and flipping on that new aromatherapy diffuser. Southern Living, "The 60-Second Trick to Acing Your To-Do List," 26 June 2018 Jenelle Evans‘ parenting skills were called into question on this week’s episode of Teen Mom 2. On Monday night’s episode, Evans becomes upset when a police officer shows up at her house to do a security check on the children. Jodi Guglielmi,, "Teen Mom 2's Jenelle Evans Says Child Protective Services Has Been Called to Her House '20 Times'," 26 June 2018 The Supreme Court’s new test means surrendering its independent judgment in national-security cases If that’s true, the courts are toothless as a check on discrimination. Aziz Huq, Vox, "The travel ban decision echoes of some of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In these cases, the field referee is now invited to check the validity of his decision on the screen. Afp,, "German federation calls for more usage of VAR," 2 Nov. 2017 If your gal pal never makes an effort to check up on you via text, call, Facebook messenger, smoke signal, etc. Jessica Ariel Wendroff, Teen Vogue, "5 Signs It's Time to Break Up With Your BFF," 2 Nov. 2017 So there’s such demand for investors to check the Boise market. John Sowell, idahostatesman, "Why did a firm owned by one of the richest women in the U.S. just buy BoDo in Boise?," 31 Oct. 2017 Audiences were evacuated at seven cinemas in central Moscow, when police were forced to check for explosives after bomb threats were phoned in. Nick Holdsworth, The Hollywood Reporter, "Russia Box Office: Local-Language Disney Film Beats Controversial 'Matilda'," 30 Oct. 2017 When the timer goes off, check the eggs: the whites should be just set and opaque. Sarah Rense, Esquire, "A Completely Foolproof Guide to Perfectly Poaching an Egg," 30 Oct. 2017 If the separation worsens, make an appointment with your doctor to check things out. Sarah Kinonen, Allure, "People Are Ripping Off Their Ingrown Toenails and Filming It," 26 Oct. 2017 Some crematoriums use handheld metal detectors to check for undisclosed implants. Melissa Jayne Kinsey, Slate Magazine, "Going Out With a Bang," 26 Oct. 2017 Twitter, for example, will ban official Russian news outlets while Facebook plans to do better fact-checking on its news feed and will reveal the sources of political ads. The Christian Science Monitor, "Social media shine a light on themselves," 4 Nov. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'check.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of check


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1922, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for check


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


see check entry 1

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Learn More about check

Statistics for check

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for check

The first known use of check was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for check



English Language Learners 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


\ˈchek \

Kids Definition of check

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

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

3 : examination sense 1, investigation a safety check

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

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

6 : a slip of paper showing the amount due

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

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

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

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

in check

: under control Try to keep your emotions in check.


checked; checking

Kids Definition of check (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

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 : to get information by examining He checked his watch.

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

6 : to leave or accept for safekeeping or for shipment check baggage

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

check out

1 : to look at Check out his new car.

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

3 : to pay for purchases



Legal Definition of check 

1 : something that limits or restrains — see also checks and balances

2 : a written order signed by its maker directing a bank to pay a specified sum to a named person or to that person's order on demand — see also negotiable instrument — compare draft

bank check

: a check drawn by a bank on its deposits in another bank

cashierʼs check

: a check drawn by a bank on its own funds and signed by the cashier or another bank official

certified check

: a check certified to be good by the bank upon which it is drawn by the signature of usually the cashier or paying teller with the word certified or accepted across the face of the check

NSF check Not Sufficient Funds

: a check drawn on an account with insufficient funds from which to make payment

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Comments on check

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lying above or upon

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