Check (pattern)

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Cloth of green gingham in check pattern

A check (also checker, Brit: chequer) is a pattern of modified stripes consisting of crossed horizontal and vertical lines forming squares.


The original check pattern was the ancient oriental chess-board

The word is derived from the ancient Persian language word shah, meaning "king", from the oriental game of chess, played on a squared board, particularly from the expression shah mat, "the king is dead", in modern chess parlance "check-mate". The word entered the French language as echec in the 11th century,[1] thence into English.

Use in fabrics[edit]

Check-patterned fabrics display bands in two or more colours in woven cloth. Checks are traditionally associated with Scotland where woven dyed wool was, at one time, a principal cloth. District checks were created as camouflage for moving inconspicuously on the laird's lands. The checks are associated with a specific area as opposed to the tartan of a family or clan. Checks are also used as distinctive patterns for woven cloth in modern designs.

Other uses[edit]

A heraldic escutcheon chequy gules and argent

The check pattern is also used in many areas other than textile styles, for example: on a board used by the mediaeval Exchequer to perform financial computations, and on a board used for playing checkers and chess, and in heraldry.

See also[edit]


  • Harrison, E.S.; Our Scottish District Checks; National Association of Woollen Manufacturers, Edinburgh; 1968 p6.


  1. ^ Larousse Dictionnaire de la Langue Francaise, Lexis, Paris, 1993