A: Why did you come?

B: I just wanted to check out your paintings.

A has mentioned to B that A paints a lot, so B is interested to finally see A's paintings. Is check out natural here to mean "see"? Is it very informal or perfectly natural?


"Check out" means to intentionally investigate something, to evaluate or otherwise come to a conclusion about it. It does not require seeing, though in this case, you would have to because you can't evaluate paintings by other means. You would check out a restaurant to see whether it was any good before you invited friends there. You would check out a prospective employee to see if he lied on his resume.

Conversely, you can see something without checking it out. A janitor who came to the room to clean up a mess would see any paintings in it, but would not necessarily check them out.

  • seems a good distinction you made there
    – Leo
    Sep 7 '20 at 18:30
  • 1
    Good answer. One thing you didn't address was the OP's question of whether it was an informal usage. In my view, it's slightly informal.
    – rjpond
    Sep 7 '20 at 18:39
  • 1
    'Check out' is still mainly American. Sep 7 '20 at 21:34
  • Not to be confused with the act of borrowing a library book, departing a hotel, or code repository operations. @MichaelHarvey I would suggest 'western', I think this is a fairly well-known idiom throughout CA, UK, AU, NZ, even western Euro.
    – mcalex
    Sep 8 '20 at 8:24
  • It is stil an Americanism, even if it is well known. Sep 8 '20 at 8:57

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