...to clock in like a char.

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Member Emeritus
English - US
Hello everyone,
I've a simple question for our BE speaking friends.

One of my favorite British comedy series is "Are you being served?".
In the third episode ("Our figures are slipping"), at the beginning, Mrs. Slocum uses the word "char"
(pronounced like the "char" in "charcoal").


Mrs. Slocum: Good morning Captain Peacock (entering from the elevator)
Captain Peakcock: 8:58 (timing her arrival on his watch)
Mrs. Slocum: As departmental head of ladies ready-made, I hardly think it necessary to clock in like a char.

From context, I would guess that "char" is someone of a "lower level" in the pay scale, perhaps like an hourly worker.

Can one of our BE experts enlighten me on what I'm really hearing (correct pronunciation), what it means, and it origin?

I thank you in advance!
Toddle pip!
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes indeed - every one a winner! Charwoman/charlady, as detected by lablady, would be the correct interpretation. The link she provided indicates the origin and they were close to the bottom of the pay-scale. My (single) mother had to work to support us and could afford a "char" once a week to help out as I was growing up, and she was referred to as the charlady. I think those much higher up the payscale (or those who aspired to those ranks, like Captain Peacock) than my mother would have used the -woman rather than the -lady suffix to show how much they looked down on them :D

    Perhaps you meant "toodle pip!" ?


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Two other fans of "Are you being served?"!!!:thumbsup::)

    Charwoman - usually a cleaning woman (from online dictionaries).

    "Char" - etymology - "odd job" "occasion" "turn" "chore" (Wiki)

    So it's a "cleaning lady" who works at/in "chores/shifts".

    Thanks VERY much indeed!

    More "Are you being served?" questions to come!
    Are you free?
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