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

  • transitive v. To burn the surface of; scorch.
  • transitive v. To reduce to carbon or charcoal by incomplete combustion.
  • intransitive v. To become scorched.
  • intransitive v. To become reduced to carbon or charcoal. See Synonyms at burn1.
  • n. A substance that has been scorched, burned, or reduced to charcoal.
  • n. Any of several fishes of the genus Salvelinus, especially the arctic char, related to the trout and salmon.
  • n. A charwoman.
  • intransitive v. To work as a charwoman.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A time; a turn or occasion.
  • n. A turn of work; a labour or item of business.
  • n. An odd job, a chore or piece of housework.
  • n. A charlady, a woman employed to do housework; cleaning lady.
  • v. To turn, especially away or aside.
  • v. To work, especially to do housework.
  • n. One of the several species of fishes of the genus Salvelinus or the brook trout.
  • v. To burn something to charcoal.
  • v. To burn slightly or superficially so as to affect colour.
  • n. A charred substance.
  • n. A character (text element such as a letter or symbol), whose data size is commonly one or several bytes.
  • n. tea (drink)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the several species of fishes of the genus Salvelinus, allied to the spotted trout and salmon, inhabiting deep lakes in mountainous regions in Europe. In the United States, the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is sometimes called a char.
  • n. A car; a chariot.
  • n. Work done by the day; a single job, or task; a chore.
  • intransitive v. To work by the day, without being a regularly hired servant; to do small jobs.
  • transitive v. To perform; to do; to finish.
  • transitive v. To work or hew, as stone.
  • transitive v. To reduce to coal or carbon by exposure to heat; to reduce to charcoal; to burn to a cinder.
  • transitive v. To burn slightly or partially.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To turn; give another direction to.
  • To lead or drive.
  • To stop or turn back: in this sense only chare.
  • To separate (chaff) from the grain: in this sense only chare.
  • To do; perform; execute.
  • To turn; return.
  • To go; wend.
  • To work in the house of another by the day; do chares or chores; do small jobs.
  • To burn or reduce to charcoal.
  • To burn the surface of more or less: as, to char the inside of a barrel (a process regularly employed for some purposes); the timbers were badly charred.
  • In building, to hew; work, as stone.
  • Ajar.
  • To scorch; burn; ‘singe’ (liquids): as, to char the wort in brewing.
  • To become charcoal.
  • n. A turn.
  • n. A particular time.
  • n. A motion; an act.
  • n. A particular thing to do; a single piece of work; a job; in the plural, miscellaneous jobs; work done by the day. See chore.
  • n. Charcoal.
  • n. A fish of the family Salmonidæ and genus Salvelinus.
  • n. A car; a chariot.
  • n. An old wine-measure. In Geneva it was about 145 United States gallons.
  • n. An island or sandbank formed in a stream.
  • n. In sugar manufacturing, concentrated sweet water or liquor highly charged with dissolved sugar.

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

  • n. a human female employed to do housework
  • n. a charred substance
  • v. burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color
  • v. burn to charcoal
  • n. any of several small trout-like fish of the genus Salvelinus


Back-formation from charcoal.
Origin unknown.
Middle English, a piece of work, from Old English cierr, a turning.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English cherre ("odd job"), from Old English ċierr ("a turn, change, time, occasion, affair, business"), from ċierran ("to turn, change, turn oneself, go, come, proceed, turn back, return, regard, translate, persuade, convert, be converted, agree to, submit, make to submit, reduce"), from Proto-Germanic *karzijanan (“to turn”), from Proto-Indo-European *gers- (“to bend, turn”). Cognate with Dutch keer ("a time, turn, occasion"), German Kehre ("a turn, bight, bend"), Greek γύρος ("a bout, whirl"), gyre. Compare Sanskrit "char" (to do), "kri" (to do), "kar" (to perform), and Persian کار (kar, work). More at chore, ajar. (Wiktionary)
Origin unknown, perhaps from Celtic. (Wiktionary)
Back-formation from charcoal. (Wiktionary)
Abbreviation of character. (Wiktionary)
From Mandarin chah or cha, with intrusive r. (Wiktionary)


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  • Another usage on grilse.

    January 23, 2009

  • If the county made a habit of shaking hands with chars, however could one know whom not to know? - ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008

  • That would be a cup of cha to me. Put the kettle on dear, I'm parched.

    February 6, 2008

  • Also tea as in 'a nice cup of char'.

    February 6, 2008

  • See charnel for more information, which I'm too lazy to paste here. ;-)

    November 11, 2007