check, as in a restaurant bill
Posted: 10 December 2007 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been away a long time, so “hello” to all my old friends here.
I am having trouble pinning down the origins of why the word “check” is used to refer to a restaurant bill, as in the expression “check, please!”.
I checked the list and did a search.
Thanks for any help.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome back, thenostromo!

The ultimate origin of the financial senses of “check” seems to be that it originally referred to “the counterfoil of a bank bill, draft, etc.”, i.e., another piece of paper containing the same information, that could be used to check against forgery or alteration.
First OED2 cite in this sense is from 1706 (spelled “checque").  Bank drafts and payment orders typically had such a counterfoil and so by metonomy we get the term applied to the draft or payment order, i.e. the things in your checkbook, themselves.  The leap from this to the bill in a restaurant, etc., is not covered in the OED2, but was discussed here.

Correction: they list the restaurant sense under a different headword, the sense of “something that stops, controls, or checks”.  I think that Dave’s statement in the earlier thread, “The OED2 has all three coming from the sense of a counterfoil,” is a misreading of the entry.  Rather, the counterfoil, the hat-check or coat-check token and the restaurant check are indicated to derive from (or be examples of) the sense “A means to ensure accuracy, correctness, security from fraud, etc.”

[ Edited: 10 December 2007 10:54 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 10 December 2007 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome back again, nostromo.  Nothing to add except to ask whether “billcheck” meaning the same as “bill” or “check” is used in the US?  I couldn’t find it in the OED and can’t remember where I’ve heard it.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve never heard “billcheck.”

And welcome back, nostromo!

Edit: I note for the general interest that all these senses of check ultimately derive from the chess term: “A call at chess by which notice is given to the opponent that a move has been made which exposes his King,” whence “Any person or thing that checks, or acts as a stop or restraint” and “Control by which accuracy, correctness, or agreement of facts and their representation, is secured.”

[ Edited: 10 December 2007 11:39 AM by languagehat ]
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Posted: 10 December 2007 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Welcome back Paladin!

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Posted: 10 December 2007 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yes, welcome, nostromo!

Billcheck is new to me, I’ve never heard it used in these parts (Southern England) nor can I recall seeing it anywhere in print.

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Posted: 11 December 2007 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Entering billcheck into Google, it at first reports “about 4250”.  If you doggedly page through, at page 19 it eventually decides that only 189 of those hits are actually interesting, i.e. noticeably different from each other by Google’s standards.  I may have missed some, but it appears that all of the 189 hits are either people with the name Billcheck or an Aussie financial software company called BillCheck and its products also called BillCheck.

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Posted: 14 December 2007 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Dr. Techie, ElizaD, languagehat, and aldiboronti, thank you for the welcome back. And Jim even remembered me as Paladin! Good memory.
I had checked around for info, and I especially thank Dr. Techie for directing me to where this had been discussed before. I had used the search feature but it did not reveal that for me. Much appreciated for everyone’s participation on this.
I do miss these forums, but Quoteland.com has kept me pretty busy since becoming administrator of their discussion forums a few years back. I finally had a blurb added to our bio section at
http://www.quoteland.com/articles/bios.asp
Thanks again!
:)
p.s. I also moved from California to Wisconsin this year, and am currently in Cary, North Carolina for 4 weeks learning how to fix the Siemens Axiom Artis system. My mind is ready to explode.

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