Checking In: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
April 26, 2023

The term 'checking in' means reaching out to someone to share or gather updates, asking about their well-being, or confirm plans. This expression is widely employed in both personal and professional situations, signifying a sense of duty and concern for others.

In short:

Checking in means touching base with someone to exchange information or ensure their well-being.

What Does 'Checking in' Mean?

The idiom 'checking in' has a few different meanings, depending on the context. Generally, it involves making contact with someone to:

  • Provide or receive updates
  • Inquire about their well-being
  • Confirm arrangements or plans

'Checking in' often conveys a sense of responsibility, care, or concern for others. It can be used in both personal and professional situations, highlighting the importance of communication and maintaining relationships.

Where Does 'Checking in' Come From?

The origin of the idiom 'checking in' can be traced back to the early 20th century, with roots in the hotel and travel industry. The phrase was initially used to describe the process of registering one's arrival at a hotel or similar establishment.

"The men when "checking in" should form in line at the checking station, call their numbers and personally receive from the time keeper their brass checks." —Annual Meeting of the Railway Storekeepers' Association, 1905

As time passed, the term 'checking in' developed and expanded to include different means of communication and confirmation, going beyond its original use in the hospitality industry.

10 Examples of 'Checking in' in Sentences

  • I just wanted to check in and see how you're doing after your surgery.
  • My boss checked in with me this morning to discuss our progress on the project.
  • It's been a while since we last spoke, so I thought I'd check in and catch up.
  • We should check in with our neighbors to make sure they're okay after the storm.
  • Before leaving for vacation, she checked in with her team to confirm their tasks for the week.
  • I always check in with my parents when I travel to keep them updated on my whereabouts.
  • John checked in on his elderly neighbor to see if she needed any assistance.
  • The teacher checked in with her students individually to address any concerns or questions.
  • Could you check in with the caterer to confirm the details for the event?
  • After moving to a new city, she made a point to check in with her old friends regularly.

Examples of 'Checking in' in Pop Culture

  • The 2004 animated movie "The Incredibles" features Syndrome, a former fan turned villain, who uses "checking in" when arriving on a remote island to put his evil plan into action: "Island approach. India Golf niner-niner checking in. VFR on top. Over."
  • "Office Space" is a 1999 American comedy film directed by Mike Judge. In the movie, the character Peter Gibbons uses the phrase "checking in" when he returns to his desk after being away for a moment: "Yeah. It's me again. I was away from my desk for a minute. Just checking in, in case you called while I was gone."
  • "Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life---and Can Save Yours" is a 2021 memoir by Michelle Williams where she candidly shares her experiences with depression and how she learned to cope with it.

Other Ways to Say 'Checking in'

There are several alternative phrases and expressions that can be used to convey the same idea as 'checking in'. Some of these include:

  • Touching base
  • Following up
  • Reaching out
  • Connecting with
  • Getting in touch

These expressions can be used interchangeably with 'checking in,' depending on the context and personal preference.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About 'Checking in':

  • What is the meaning of 'checking in'?
    Checking in means making contact with someone to provide or receive updates, inquire about their well-being, or confirm arrangements or plans.
  • Where did the idiom 'checking in' originate?
    The idiom 'checking in' has its origins in the early 20th century, with roots in the hotel and travel industry. Over time, the phrase evolved to encompass various forms of communication and confirmation.
  • How can 'checking in' be used in a sentence?
    You can use 'checking in' in a sentence to show that you're making contact with someone, for example: "I wanted to check in with you to see how you're feeling after your doctor's appointment."
  • Can 'checking in' be used in a professional context?
    Yes, 'checking in' can be used in professional settings to follow up on tasks, confirm arrangements, or show concern for a colleague's well-being.
  • Is 'checking in' considered informal language?
    While 'checking in' can be used in both informal and formal settings, some alternative phrases like 'touching base' or 'following up' may be considered more formal in certain situations.
  • Can 'checking in' be used in written communication?
    Yes, 'checking in' can be used in written communication, such as emails, text messages, or letters, to express the same idea as in spoken communication.
  • What are some synonyms for 'checking in'?
    Some synonyms for 'checking in' include touching base, following up, reaching out, connecting with, and getting in touch.
  • How is 'checking in' different from 'checking up on'?
    'Checking in' typically implies a more casual, friendly approach, while 'checking up on' may suggest a more authoritative or supervisory tone. However, both phrases can convey similar meanings depending on the context.
  • How often should I 'check in ' with someone?
    The frequency of 'checking in' with someone depends on your relationship and the situation. For close friends and family, you might check in more frequently, while with professional contacts or acquaintances, it could be less frequent. Use your judgment and consider the other person's preferences as well.
  • Can 'checking in' be used to describe the physical presence, like at a hotel or an event?
    Yes, 'checking in' can also refer to the process of registering one's arrival at a hotel, event, or other location. In this context, it indicates the act of confirming one's presence and providing any necessary information.

Summary and Conclusion

To sum up, 'checking in' is a flexible phrase (an idiom) that can be used to get in touch with someone for different reasons, such as updating, checking on their well-being, or confirming plans. Initially used in the hotel and travel industry, the phrase has evolved and now covers a wider scope of communication and connection. 'Checking in' is a crucial element of fostering relationships and showing care and responsibility for others.

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