charley horse

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See also: charleyhorse


Alternative forms[edit]


The term may date back to American slang of the 1880s, and is possibly from the pitcher Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn, who is said to have suffered from cramps.[1]


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charley horse (plural charley horses)

  1. (idiomatic, US) A muscle cramp, usually in the thigh or leg.
    • 1914, Ralph Henry Barbour, Left End Edwards[1]:
      Of course there had been plenty of bruises—one mild case of charley-horse, several dislocated or sprained fingers, a wrenched ankle or two and any number of cuts and scrapes, []
  2. (informal) A punch in the thigh.
    • 2006, Joe L. Kincheloe, The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education, volume 1, page 324:
      I knew to just keep my mouth shut about it — unless I wanted the word "dummy" to be followed by a charley horse.



  1. ^ Michael Quinion (1996–2024) “Charley horse”, in World Wide Words.

Further reading[edit]