In AmEng vernacular, is the word tab specific to restaurant and bar checks, or can it also be used for hotel bills?


Guest: We'll be checking out early tomorrow morning, so if it isn't too much trouble, I'd like to close out my account right now. May I get the tab, please?

Front Desk: Certainly, Mr. Smith. Just one moment, please. I'll print it out for you.


A creditor's statement: bill, check M-W

chiefly US and Canadian A bill, esp. one for a meal or drinks Collins English Dictionary

informal, chiefly North American A restaurant bill: the waiter brought three drinks and a new tab ODO

  • 2
    It's already a figurative usage in the context of "hospitality bills". You can certainly pick up the tab for anything that costs money and benefits at least one other person besides yourself. Even more figuratively, Jesus picked up the tab for our sins / daily bread etc. Jan 24, 2016 at 12:38
  • "Tab" is informal terminology for any sort of bill, though mostly used for dining/hotel bills.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 24, 2016 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, tab is used also for hotel bills:

Tab [C]: Bill. The tab informal:

  • the ​total ​money ​charged in a ​restaurant or ​hotel for ​food, ​drinks, etc.:
    • He ​kindly ​offered to ​pick up the tab (= ​pay).


  • a bill for goods you receive but pay for later, especially for food or drinks in a restaurant or bar; the price or cost of something, a bar tab:

    • Can I put it on my tab? The tab for the meeting could be $3 000. Who is going to pick up the tab for the legal expenses? He walked out of the restaurant and left me to pick up the tab for the whole meal.


Ngram: hotel tab:

  • ...room at some ungodly hour with wafiles and muffins and be shocked to see you and your boyfriend together. are you? You aren't expecting your relatives parents to pick up your hotel tab, are you? Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers

  • Garage parking will consume your family's lunch money. If you plan on arriving by car, ask about parking rates at your hotel when you make a reservation. It may prevent your requiring treatment for shock when the final hotel tab is totaled up. Washington, D.C. For Dummies

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