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verb (used with object), charred, char·ring.
  1. to burn or reduce to charcoal: The fire charred the paper.
  2. to burn slightly; scorch: The flame charred the steak.
verb (used without object), charred, char·ring.
  1. to become charred.
  1. a charred material or surface.
  2. charcoal.
  3. a superior carbon-rich fuel, a by-product of the conversion of coal into gaseous or liquid fuel.

Origin of char1

1670–80; apparently extracted from charcoal; see chark


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2. singe, sear.


noun, plural (especially collectively) char, (especially referring to two or more kinds or species) chars.
  1. any trout of the genus Salvelinus (or Cristovomer), especially the Arctic char.

Origin of char2

1655–65; perhaps Old English *ceorra literally, turner, derivative of ceorran to turn, it being thought of as swimming to and fro time and again; see char3


[chahr]Chiefly British
  1. a charwoman.
  2. a task, especially a household chore.
  3. chars, odd jobs, especially of housework, for which one is paid by the hour or day.
verb (used without object), charred, char·ring.
  1. to work at housecleaning by the day or hour; hire oneself out to do odd jobs.
verb (used with object), charred, char·ring.
  1. to do (housework, odd jobs, or chores); clean or repair.

Origin of char3

1375–1425; late Middle English, Old English cerr, cierr turn, time, occasion, affair, derivative of cierran to turn


noun British Informal.
  1. tea.

Origin of char4

1915–20; < Hindi tea; for spelling with r cf. arvo, Parcheesi


  1. Re·né [ruh-ney] /rəˈneɪ/, 1907–1988, French poet.


  1. character.
  2. charter.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for char

Historical Examples

  • Rollo was sitting in a char à banc when he said this, at the door of the hotel.

    Rollo in Switzerland

    Jacob Abbott

  • The char was not much better than a handsomely-painted cart.

    One Snowy Night

    Emily Sarah Holt

  • "Father tells me you have been having your own troubles, little Char," he wrote.

  • But a Dolly Varden isn't a trout at all, it's really a char.

  • To scorch and to singe are superficial, and to char usually so.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms

    James Champlin Fernald

British Dictionary definitions for char


verb chars, charring or charred
  1. to burn or be burned partially, esp so as to blacken the surface; scorch
  2. (tr) to reduce (wood) to charcoal by partial combustion

Word Origin

C17: short for charcoal



noun plural char, chars, charr or charrs
  1. any of various troutlike fishes of the genus Salvelinus, esp S. alpinus, occurring in cold lakes and northern seas: family Salmonidae (salmon)

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin


  1. informal short for charwoman
verb chars, charring or charred
  1. British informal to do housework, cleaning, etc, as a job

Word Origin

C18: from Old English cerr


  1. British a slang word for tea

Word Origin

from Chinese ch'a
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

Word Origin and History for char


"to reduce to charcoal," 1670s, probably a back-formation from charcoal (q.v.). Related: Charred; charring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper