follow Dictionary.com

Submit your word to be a Word of the Day!

charade

[shuh-reyd; especially British shuh-rahd] /ʃəˈreɪd; especially British ʃəˈrɑd/
noun
1.
charades, (used with a singular verb) a game in which the players are typically divided into two teams, members of which take turns at acting out in pantomime a word, phrase, title, etc., which the members of their own team must guess.
2.
a word or phrase acted out in this game.
3.
a blatant pretense or deception, especially something so full of pretense as to be a travesty.
Origin
1770-1780
1770-80; < French < Provençal charrad(o) entertainment, equivalent to charr(á) to chat, chatter (from imitative root) + -ado -ade1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for charade
  • charade is not even a word deserving of a connection to this house and this collection.
  • Amid all the sensationalism, few voices have denounced the charade of family unity for electoral ends.
  • Both countries have to stop the charade that misinforms their own people about what they are doing and why.
  • Our local community college should be shut down tomorrow so no more money is wasted on the charade.
  • There was, however, a problem: it was all a charade.
  • Whether his appearance qualifies as a thin charade or an awkward obligation is unclear.
  • And it is either a game changer or the biggest charade in the history of economics.
  • So an extended living room serves as a place to enjoy the sun and rain privately without the charade of the wilderness.
  • But the move must be recognized for the cynical charade it is.
  • In other words, our pose of idiosyncratic uniqueness was a big charade.
British Dictionary definitions for charade

charade

/ʃəˈrɑːd/
noun
1.
an episode or act in the game of charades
2.
(mainly Brit) an absurd act; travesty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for charade
n.

1776, from French charade (18c.), probably from Provençal charrado "long talk, chatter," of obscure origin, perhaps from charrar "to chatter, gossip," of echoic origin. Cf. Italian ciarlare, Spanish charlar "to talk, prattle." Originally not silent, but relying rather on enigmatic descriptions of the words or syllables.

As we have ever made it a Rule to shew our Attention to the Reader, by 'catching the Manners living, as they rise,' as Mr. Pope expresses it, we think ourselves obliged to give Place to the following Specimens of a new Kind of SMALL WIT, which, for some Weeks past, has been the Subject of Conversation in almost every Society, from the Court to the Cottage. The CHARADE is, in fact, a near Relation of the old Rebus. It is usually formed from a Word of two Syllables; the first Syllable is described by the Writer; then the second; they are afterwards united and the whole Word marked out .... [supplement to "The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure," volumes 58-59, 1776]
Among the examples given are:

My first makes all nature appear of one face;
At the next we find music, and beauty and grace;
And, if this Charade is most easily read,
I think that the third shou'd be thrown at my head.

[The answer is "snow-ball."]

The silent form, the main modern form, was at first a variant known as dumb charades and at first it was not a speed contest; rather it adhered to the old pattern, and the performing team acted out all the parts in order before the audience team began to guess.
There is one species of charade which is performed solely by "dumb motions," somewhat resembling the child's game of "trades and professions"; but the acting charade is a much more amusing. and more difficult matter. ["Goldoni, and Modern Italian Comedy," in "The Foreign And Colonial Quarterly Review," Volume 6, 1846]
An 1850 book, "Acting Charades," reports that Charades en Action were all the rage in French society, and that "Lately, the game has been introduced into the drawing-rooms of a few mirth-loving Englishmen. Its success has been tremendous." Welsh siarad obviously is a loan-word from French or English, but its meaning of "speak, a talk" is closer to the Provençal original.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for charade

originally a kind of riddle, probably invented in France during the 18th century, in which a word or phrase is divined by guessing and combining its different syllables, each of which is described independently by the giver of the charade. Charades may be given in prose or verse. The following is an example of a poetic charade:My first is a Tartar,My second a letter;My all is a country,No Christmas dish better.

Learn more about charade with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for charade

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for charade

13
13
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with charade