AskDefine | Define charwoman

Dictionary Definition

charwoman n : a human female who does housework; "the char will clean the carpet" [syn: char, cleaning woman, cleaning lady, woman]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

char + woman.

Noun

  1. chiefly UK A woman employed to do housework.

Translations

a woman employed to do housework

Extensive Definition

A charlady or sometimes charwoman was an English house cleaner. The term was used through the mid-20th Century. Unlike a maid or housekeeper, typically live-in positions, the charlady worked for weekly wages and usually came and went on a daily basis.
The term was also common in the 19th century and often appears as an occupation in the English census of 1841.
The position often features in fiction; one notable character is the charlady who appears in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The best known charlady is probably Ada Harris from Paul Gallico's novel Mrs 'Arris goes to Paris.
In the British radio comedy series It's That Man Again, Dorothy Summers played the part of Mrs Mopp, the office char with the catch phrase "Can I do you now, Sir?" (i.e., "May I clean your office now, Sir?" but with an obvious double entendre).
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