Charade and charades

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Charade and charades are words with their roots in eighteenth century France. We will examine the meanings of the words charade and charades, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A charade is an action that is a pretense, an action intended to give the illusion of respectability or the appearance of pleasantness. Charade is a noun, derived from the Provençal word charrado, which means to gossip.

Charades may be used as the plural form of charade, but most often charades refers to a parlor game. In the parlor game of charades or dumb charades, a person pantomimes the title of a movie, book, television show or famous phrase while the other players attempt to guess the title. The game of charades originated in France in the 1700s as a literary riddle, in which the player described each word separately until the group could guess the entire title or phrase. By the 1800s, charades became a silent game.


The workshop was a charade—a gross display of manipulation. The city’s council owes an apology to those who attended it in good faith. (The Livermore Independent)

A busy man, Smith is participating in the great charade of American life, the one where politicians and corporations pretend they will do something, when, in fact, it is almost certain that business will continue on as usual—for Equifax, for Wells Fargo and all the others. (The Nation)

Cut to five years later in Mumbai, where I’m playing dumb charades, of all things, at a bar with around 15 men and women I’ve never met before. (Condé Nast Traveller )

However, charades has been replaced with an app, Jack’s dates are on Grindr, Will has taken to voicing his political views while flirting on Facebook, and Grace reads Queerty—all while Karen holds her martini and tunes them all out. (Harper’s Bazaar)