early 13c., chargen, "to load, put a burden on or in; fill with something to be retained," from Old French chargier "to load, burden, weigh down," from Late Latin carricare "to load a wagon or cart," from Latin carrus "two-wheeled wagon" (see car).
The senses of "entrust," "command," and "accuse" all emerged in Middle English and were found in Old French. The sense of "rush in to attack, bear down upon" is from 1560s, perhaps through the earlier meaning "load a weapon" (1540s). The meaning "impose a burden of expense" is from mid-14c. That of "to fix or ask as a price" is from 1787; the meaning "hold liable for payment, enter a debt against" is by 1889. The meaning "fill with electricity" is from 1748. Related: Charged; charging.
c. 1200, "a load, a weight," from Old French charge "load, burden; imposition," from chargier "to load, to burden," from Late Latin carricare "to load a wagon or cart," from Latin carrus "two-wheeled wagon" (see car). A doublet of cargo.
The meaning "responsibility, burden" is from mid-14c. (as in take charge, late 14c.; in charge, 1510s), which progressed to "pecuniary burden, cost, burden of expense" (mid-15c.), and then to "price demanded for service or goods" (1510s). The meaning "anything committed to another's custody, care, or management" is from 1520s.
The legal sense of "accusation" is late 15c.; earlier "injunction, order" (late 14c.). The meaning "address delivered by a judge to a jury at the close of a trial" is from 1680s. The electrical sense is from 1767.
The slang meaning "thrill, kick" (American English) is from 1951. The meaning "quantity of powder required for one discharge of a firearm" is from 1650s. The military meaning "impetuous attack upon an enemy" is from 1560s; as an order or signal to make such an attack, 1640s.
updated on November 25, 2022
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