Prove Me Right

So, I was fighting with Mack about this this morning and now I’ve been fighting about it all afternoon with the Butcher.  Internet, I turn to you.  Settle this once and for all.

What is a charley horse?

Is it the act of giving someone a terrible cramp in their leg (or sometimes arm)?

Or is it the cramp itself?

41 thoughts on “Prove Me Right

  1. it’s the cramp itself. charley horses can wake you up in the middle of night even if you’re sleeping alone. (and how would you manage to incite a cramp in somebody else’s leg, anyway?)

  2. My thought is that it’s the cramp itself as well. Though I suppose you could be using it the same way some people use “indian burn,” to describe both what you’re doing and what happens to the person as a result.

  3. Wikipedia (along with many other internet sites) will tell you all about the impressive waterlocks in Toledo (Spain).* There are not, and never have been, locks on the Tagus at or near Toledo, since it’s completely un-navigable there. There was once a waterclock on the riverbank there, though. I guess that’s close enough for such an authoritative source.

    *The article as a whole is quite painful, being full of missing paragraphs and references to Derek Jeter.

  4. nm, as I hoped to suggest with the wink emoticon, and knowing when I posted the comment that B knows that I have a masters degree in library and information science, I wasn’t suggesting that Wikipedia is an authoritative source.

  5. I was teasing…my students use Wikipedia as gospel, which I think is funny, but I didn’t mean to make anyone feel bad. Sorry.

  6. Ha, I wonder if it would be unseemly to sit on the Butcher while calling Mack in order to taunt them both with “I am right! I am right!” at the same time?

  7. In my experience it was always the cramp itself. “I have a charley horse in my thigh” is a phrase I specifically remember from childhood. For reasons that have nothing to do with anything.

  8. “and how would you manage to incite a cramp in somebody else’s leg, anyway?” – Nomen, you punch ’em with your knuckle. At least, that’s how I learned. :)

  9. Rachel, I’m sorry. I knew you were joking. I just had to share the influence of Derek Jeter on medieval Toledo, which I discovered only a couple of days ago.

  10. No, you are all wrong. Yes, you can wake up with a muscle cramp without having receievd some sort of blow. However, at that point, it’s a cramp. When someone knocks you with a knuckle, or you bang yourself against something, producing a painful area OR muscle cramp, thats a charley horse.

    Wikipedia be damned.

  11. Ha, I wonder if it would be unseemly to sit on the Butcher while calling Mack in order to taunt them both with “I am right! I am right!” at the same time?

    I can’t think of anything MORE seemly. Unless you were blowing a horn, preferably a Klaxon, between taunts.

    What can I say, I go for the jugular when I’m proven right.

    By the way, eat a banana every morning and you can reduce your incidence of charley horses, aka the nasty leg cramps. I am no-longer-waking-up-screaming proof.

  12. And, further, when a bunch of people gather to sell or trade their stuff at an old drive in, its called a Swap meet not a flea market.

    Just sayin.

  13. Mack, the first rule of finding yourself in a hole is to stop digging. I’m right. The internet and my brilliant readers prove me right and you should just accept that. Otherwise I’m going to have to taunt you and thrust my pelvis in your face in unseemly ways.

    Also, I think a swap meet and a flea market are two slightly different things. A flea market has a definite schedule, like the last weekend of every month, there’s a flea market out to the fairgrounds. A swap meet is more irregular. I could be wrong on that though.

  14. Also, I’m embarrassed to admit that, until this moment, I thought it was a swamp meet, which, you must admit, sounds like more fun… with added danger!

  15. This may be more of a regional type of definition. For example, in Tennessee, a “tow motor” is known throughout the rest of Christendom as a “forklift”.

    Same goes for “hose pipe”. Everywhere else, it’s just a “hose”.

    The swap meet is perhaps peculiar to Southern California, much the same way a ‘tag sale’ in New England is called a garage sale or a yard sale elsewhere depending on the locality.

    A charley horse, when I was in grade school in Southern California, was when someone came up to you and punched you in the leg after asking, “Who won the Kentucky Derby”. Much the same way, the answer is a definite “no, thank you” to anyone asking if you want a “Hertz Donut”. Let’s not even discuss the proper etiquette for inquiries about the capital of Thailand.

  16. I sympathize with Mack having a definition that no one else has. Chet and I often get in these battles (e.g., does one dip snuff or snort it?) and go to the OED and his definition will be right except there will be this little clause at the end like, “Except in the American South where one ‘dips’ snuff, putting it in one’s lip, instead of snorting it.”

    I checked the OED for Mack, but no dice on the transitive form of a charley-horse. Origin is unknown, but the OED definitively states:

    Stiffness or cramp in the arm or leg, esp. in baseball players.

    One of the quotes includes Mack’s name, though, so that’s cool:

    1889 Cincinnati Comm. Gaz. 17 Mar. 15/1 Mac was affected with a ‘Charley-horse’ and that ended his ball~playing for 1888.

  17. On my way to Publix, I was, sallying forth to negotiate the purchase of some food and drink, when it hit me. “Wait a cotton pickin minute!” Maybe, just maybe i checked my side view mirror before whipping about in my iron steed and racing back to this computer.

    Ahem. When we had this conversation yesterday. I merely remarked that West of the Mississippi, a sudden muscle cramp was simply called a cramp. However, a charlie horse was something you inflict on another. You knew this, yet turned to your mindless sycophants for affirmation, because you badly needed a win.

    It all about winning with you, isn’t it?

    I might add that swap meets have schedules and routines just the same. Tis another West Coast thing.

  18. Well, St. Louis Michigan is indeed east of the Mississippi, is it not?

    Really, Old Girl, you should be bringing your A-game.

  19. But that is not the St. Louis in which I learned the lore and wisdom of the charley horse and was initiated into its painful mysteries. And really, Grasshopper, you should bring your respect for your elders, who can bring you to enlightenment.

  20. Why can’t it refer to both? We have lots of words that work that way and lots of words that mean to entirely unrelated things. It’s clearly the cramp. And, it seems to me that it can also be the the punch. And, if it’s the punch, why couldn’t it also refer to the pain. And, we can have more than one name for the same thing so that we can all refer to that punch by a few different names.

  21. By god… the Charley horse was one of the “diseases or injuries” in the board game Operation (probably still is).

    Therefore, it is the cramp.

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