Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Informal A cramp or stiffness in a muscle, especially of the upper leg, caused by injury or excessive exertion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A muscle cramp, usually in the thigh or leg.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a muscular cramp (especially in the thigh or calf) following vigorous exercise

Etymologies

Originally baseball slang, of unknown origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The term may date back to American slang of the 1880s, possibly from the pitcher Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn who is said to have suffered from cramps. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Never heard this in Australia.

    April 5, 2010

  • Charlie Horse was a charming hand puppet used by puppeteer Shari Lewis. A friend of Lamb Chop.
    Shari Lewis (January 17, 1933 – August 2, 1998) was an American ventriloquist, puppeteer, and children's television show host, most popular during the 1960s.

    February 2, 2008

  • Merriam-Webster Dictonary
    noun
    Etymology: from Charley, nickname for Charles
    Date: 1888
    : a muscular pain, cramping, or stiffness especially of the quadriceps that results from a strain or bruise

    February 2, 2008