• charabanc •
shær-rê-bæng • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. An open-air sight-seeing bus. 2. A covered sight-seeing bus.
Notes: Today's word is used mostly in Great Britain; even there it is at least "historical". The Oxford English Dictionary prefers the French spelling, char-à-banc. Someone who is a passenger on such a vehicle may be called a charabancer. This word was also used as a verb, meaning "travel in a charabanc".
In Play: As mentioned above, the term seems more popular in England: "Many English seaside towns seem stuck in that era when charabancs full of factory workers converged on the shore for fun and frolics." But charabancs thrive in some spots around the US: "Dr. Goodword likes to peruse Tobias Wildlife Park in central Pennsylvania with his grandchildren in a charabanc provided by the park."
Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from the French char à bancs, made up of char "coach, carriage" + à "with" + bancs "benches". Char is the remnants of Old French cart, also snipped by English as both cart and car. French inherited its word from Latin carrus "two-wheeled wagon", which developed from some form of PIE kers-/kors- "to run". This word also became currere "to run" in Latin, which underlies English current. The French preposition à devolved from Latin ad "(up) to". Latin preserved unscathed the PIE original, ad "to, at", which also went on to become at in English. The English verb to twit came from Old English ætwitan, combining æt "at" + witan "to blame". By Middle English it had become atwite and from there to twit. (Today's Good Word arose in a discussion of mountebank between David Myer, Philip Hudson, and Brian Johnson in the Agora.)
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