Many Americans use the word "tab" as a noun when referring to an amount of money that is spent at a restaurant or a bar.
- What was the tab for the food and the drinks?
- What did the tab come to?
- The waitress brought us our tab.
- Who picked up the tab? (Who paid for the food?)
- Jerry picked up the tab for the entire table. That was very generous of him.
A tab is also an amount of money that is added to a person’s credit card as her or she sits at a bar to eat and drink. This is a very convenient method of paying for food and beverages when someone is at a bar for a long time (two to three hours), especially while watching a football or baseball game or gathering with a large group of friends.
- We ran up a tab at the bar.
- Put that on my tab, please.
- The bartender didn’t put the drinks on our tab because he said they were on the house.* (The drinks were free!)
- The bartender closed out the tab before we left the bar. We added 20% as a tip.
- The women sitting at the table forgot to pay the tab, but someone came back the next day to take care of it.
A tab is also a small piece of paper often associated with games of chance.
- A customer at McDonald’s pulled back the tab to see if there was a prize of free food.
- Pull tabs are a popular form of gambling.
- The tab showed that she was a winner.
*on the house: the food or the merchandise is free. It’s paid for by the restaurant, the bar, or the hotel.
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August 8, 2013