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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?

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"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.

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  • seems a good distinction you made there
    – Leo
    Sep 7 '20 at 18:30
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    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
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    '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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