Check Please!

A colleague of mine just asked me what word to use to initiate checkout in a US restaurant.

I immediately replied "’Check, please!’, or more polite ‘Could I/we have the check, please?’", but I had to look up various references to try and clarify the relation between "bill" and "check".

One "source" is this blog entry on dine-out-behavior, that I find too interesting and concise to not juice it for my next search.

But that guy’s using "check" and "bill" in such a whirl that it’s hard to figure out when to use one vs. the other. I guess, "check" is the act of producing the "bill", but who cares about such distinctions?

In case somebody’s wondering:

In German it’s a choice of

  • "Die Rechnung, bitte!" ("The bill, please.")
  • "Zahlen, bitte!" ("[I would like to {be}] pay{ing}, please."), which is in fact not as impolite as it may sound, but carries the intention of intent to leave immediately.
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