Green’s Dictionary of Slang

check n.1

[SE check, a token, a ticket; phr. underpinned by gambling imagery; thus Asbury, Sucker’s Progress (1938) 18: ‘An extraordinary number of the terms, technical and otherwise, which were employed by Faro players in the palmy days of the game have passed into the language [...] and are commonly used by millions who never heard of Faro. Here are some of them: [...] Pass in his checks — He cashed in.’]

1. money.

[US]J.J. Hooper Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs (1851) 57: He called for ‘Twenty, five-dollar checks’. [...] The dealer handed him the red checks and he piled them upon the ‘ten’.
[US]J. Lomax Cowboy Songs 209: But you have to show your copper checks / To get your grain and hay.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 13: Sex and checks. [...] It’s sex and checks what drive a man back to the gettin’ high side of town.

2. $1.

[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 12/1: One-half check – Fifty cents.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Johns Hopkins Jargon’ in AS VII:5 330: check — a dollar.
[US]R. Starnes Grant’s Tomb 201: Dr. Peachy [...] dropped a coin into the blind man’s cup. It sounded like half a check.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

3. a measure of a drug, usu. 28g (1oz) in a folded packet.

[US]Chicago Trib. 11 Oct. 14/3: A package of drug wrapped in paper is called a ‘deck,’ a ‘check,’ or a ‘bundle.’ If it is in a capsule it is called a ‘berry,’ a ‘bean,’ or a ‘cap’ [DA].
[US]D. Maurer ‘Junker Lingo’ in AS VIII:2 27: The rations — usually sold at a standard price of $1.00 — are designated, according to the type of drug involved, as checks, bindles, or O.Z.’s.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]C. Fuller, Jr ‘Love Song for Wing’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 142: He’s the runner of Tenth and Montgomery [...] He holds all the check.

4. one’s personal supply of drugs.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 5: Check — Personal supply of drugs.

In compounds

check charmer (n.)

a swindler who loiters in Faro banks in order to beg checks from winning players.

[US]N.Y. Times 16 Jan. 8: Quinn’s next phase in life was that of a ‘check charmer’ in the Bowery. A ‘check charmer’ is a shiftless swindler who frequents faro banks and begs checks from fortunate players.

In phrases

cash in one’s checks (v.) (also cash in one’s (earthly) cheques, cash one’s check(s), cash one’s last check, cash one’s last stock of whites )

(orig. US) to die.

Amer. Humorist 11 Aug. F., 134: Do you and each of you solemnly sw’ar that you will [...] cling to each other through life till death calls upon you to cash in your earthly checks? [DA].
[[US]C.L. Cullen More Ex-Tank Tales 84: That’s an experience that’ll hold me until I cash in my last stock of whites].
[US]S.F. Call 27 Sept. 5/6: His friends have him slated for the presidency as soon as the gentleman with the mutton-chops now holding that position has the decency to cash his last check.
[US]Fulton Co. News (McConnellsburg, PA) 11 Jan. 8/2: You have got to pay a fee [...] for the privilege of being allowed to be buried after you cash in your last check.
[US]Dos Passos Three Soldiers 50: When I think to myself how much folks need me home [...] I juss can’t cash in my checks.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Jo-Jo’ in Short Stories (1937) 138: ‘Someday he’ll get drunk and just go off.’ [...] ‘Or else have a fit and cash in his checks without knowing it,’ the cop said.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 200: Cashed his checks.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 232: It’s like it was time to cash in my cheques now.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US] in H.S. Thompson Great Shark Hunt (1980) 604: Every light in town went dim when we heard he’d finally cashed his check.
check please

(US black) a phr. indicating that a meeting is concluded.

[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: check, please an expression used to terminate a social encounter, to indicate that it is time to leave.
get one’s checks (v.)

(US) to die.

G. Gleason Specter Riders 60: Dead as a door-nail [...] Got his checks, sure’s shootin’ [HDAS].
hand in one’s checks (v.) (also hand in one’s cards)

(US) to die.

[US]Spirit of the Times (N.Y.) 7 Mar. 6/1: Those noble and peril-loving souls have nearly all ‘handed in their checks’ [DA].
Republican Banner 27 Sept. 3/2: I began to feel as though I had played away four years in a game of Political Faro, and ‘handed in my checks’ to old Time the remorseless dealer [DA].
[US]Galaxy (N.Y.) July 61: From this operation [...] has come one of the most common of modern slang phrases, ‘handing in his checks,’ as a synonym for death; and there is something of a grotesque humor in the metaphor [...] There is something funereal in the gravity and decorum of the faro room, and there is a deal of the utter abandon of death in the staid recklessness with which an infatuated player stakes his last dollar on the turn of a card.
[UK]Bristol Magpie 5 Apr.7/2: So when Inspector Death came round, / He ‘handed in his checks’.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 88: When I hand in my checks, I will leave the notes with my dear old mother-in-law for collection.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 Aug. 19/3: A memory of Tom O’Brien, the veteran and esteemed attorney, who handed in his checks a week or two ago.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Wrinkles’ Sporting Times 16 Apr. 1/3: Soon to hand in his checks he was fated.
[UK]J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 40: He was booked all right, and was going to hand in his checks on June 14th.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 356: Mr. James handed in his checks last night.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 114: Her husband is slowly handin’ in his checks.
[Ire]H. Leonard A Life (1981) Act II: Dezzie, we’re all goin’ downhill. ’S a fact. And in your case the cells of the brain is handin’ in its cards.
pass in one’s checks (v.) (also pass in one’s counters, ...cheque, pass in, pass on one’s cheque)

(orig. US) to die.

[UK]W. Pratt Ten Nights in a Bar-Room IV ii: Your game is about up, so you’d better pass in your checks!
[US]M.M. Pomeroy Nonsense 34: Miranda’s father had passed in his checks. He grew tired of life, and after a fit of family happiness took the poison the rats refused.
[US]F.H. Hart Sazerac Lying Club 237: A Celestial maiden named Sing Loy passed in her checks.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 31 May 35/2: Ef yer [...] want a pard that’ll stick to to ye till ye pass in yer checks, just squeal .
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 217: Sherman Thurston, my old friend, is dead. He passed in his checks, shuffled his last cards, dealt his final lay-out, and been gathered to the gods.
[SA]B. Mitford Fire Trumpet III 232: Poor Jack might have done, but he’s passed on his cheque.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 July 5/4: And then I watch with a sickly grin / While the patient ‘passes his counters in.’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 30 Dec. 1/6: Frank Stubly [...] after missing a forlorn hope out Mount Laydon way [...] passed in his checks.
[US](con. 1875) F.T. Bullen Cruise of the ‘Cachalot’ 22: Anyhow, it killed him promptly, while almost directly after another one [i.e. a whale] saved further trouble by passing in his own checks.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Apr. 32/2: The old type of boundary-rider is fast dying out, or, as he himself would say, ‘passing in.’.
[NZ]Truth (London) 26 Mar. 828/2: ‘Evie, dear, do you know I've often been wishing lately that I could see you happily married before I pass in my checks.’ ‘Pass in your checks! Oh, Pater! [...] I hope you won't do that for many a day to come’.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 444: A doctor an’ a cook traveled with ’m till he passed in his checks.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 406: Chum o yourn passed in his checks?
[US]O. Strange Law O’ The Lariat 215: There’s a fella here passin’ in his checks.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 336: Thompson finally passed in his own checks on the night of March 11, 1884, when he and King Fisher [...] were shot down in a variety theater.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 58: Soldiers had plenty of euphemisms for death and the devices that brought it. These included [...] the Americanism to pass in your cheques (checks).
put one’s checks back in the rack (v.)

(US) to die.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Dancing Dan’s Christmas’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 262: Before the old doll puts her checks back in the rack.
send in one’s checks (v.)

(US) to die.

M. Pedler Hermit of Far End Ch. XXXIX 🌐 I am enclosing herewith a properly attested record of the facts, Miles, in case I should send in my checks while I’m at the other side of the world.