I have the following sentence which describes the want of the speaker to hold another private dinner at a later date because he/she has somewhere else to be suddenly:

  • I’m going to have to take a rain check this time.

I've read a question and its answers here. I've also read some of the answers under this question. These did not answer my question since the dinner that is happening is in progress and the person in question is leaving while saying this. I'm asking if the usage is correct or not in this context since the event that the speaker wants to take a rain check on is already happening.


It's a figurative expression that's on its way to becoming an idiom

The original meaning of "rain check" was a token that was given out when an outdoor event was cancelled by rain allowing the holder to attend the rescheduled event when it took place. This usage is largely archaic as most ticketing is now electronic and there is no need for the physical rain check.

The expression was coopted by department stores to allow a person who couldn't buy a sale item because it was out-of-stock to buy it later at the sale price when new stock arrived. You still occasionally see it in advertisements usually in the form of "No rain checks", however, it's more common to see the more straightforward "While stocks last".

This general meaning: being able to take advantage of an opportunity latter that circumstances prevented you from utilising now transferred to social settings. So the expression "take a raincheck" means I can't socialise with you at this opportunity but I would love to do so in the future. So, for example, a friend invites you to the football and you say "I'll take a rain check" meaning "I can't do that but it's not because I don't want to do things with you so please keep asking me". Of course, like all social interaction, it could also mean that you hate their guts and are too polite to say so.

It originated in North America but spread to most varieties of English - I have seen it used in Britain, Australia and New Zealand - I can't speak for South Africa or India.

  • This is my first time seeing it since I'm not a native speaker. Although I appreciate your answer, as I've said, my question pertained to the specific usage of this phrase in a context where an event has already started.
    – Ge To
    Jul 21 at 0:40
  • 2
    Can be before, during or after - “I thought you’d be there.” “Had to take a rain check.”
    – Dale M
    Jul 21 at 4:55

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