Learn English – Is it “Check and mate” or “Checkmate”


I found the expression “Check and mate!” in the following sentence describing furious exchange of words between CNN host Piers Morgan and rightwing radio host and anti-gun-control propagandist Alex Jones on gun-control in the video titled “Shoots off his mouth on Piers Morgan” in Time magazine’s (Jan 8) Entertainment Section.

When Morgan managed to work in a question like, “How many gun murders
were there in Britain?” Jones answered, “How many great white sharks
kill people and yet they’re afraid to swim?” Check and mate!

From the definition of ‘checkmate” in Cambridge English Dictionary, "noun (2) a situation in which someone has been defeated or a plan cannot develop or continue", it is obvious that “check and mate” here means Jones’s answer was the finish blow that shut Morgan’s mouth up.

However, I was unable to find “check and mate” in any of Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster English dictionary, though they all register “checkmate.”

Google Ngram registers “check and mate” at an average 0.00000006 incidence level since circ 1850, but I don't know how significant this number is.

Can I use “check and mate” interchangeably with “checkmate” to mean being driven into a corner?

Best Answer

Oishi-san, "Check and mate!" is just a way of drawing out the word checkmate to make it sound more dramatic.

In American English, we often split words and put whole words in between the parts

That's fan-freakin'-tastic [That's fantastic]

or draw the syllables themselves out for emphasis

That is one bee-yooo-tiful car! [That is one beautiful car]

(Remember that English is unlike Japanese in that vowels can be of any duration.)