Word Confusion: Accuse versus Charge

Posted October 5, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I don’t remember what prompted me to explore the difference between accuse and charge, and I am surprised by how much “work” charge does.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Accuse Charge
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: charge; Free Dictionary.com: charge

An open letter in the L'Aurore newspaper to President Faure regarding Emile Zola's book on The Dreyfus Affair

This scan of L’Aurore is of a letter from Émile Zola. It is in the public domain and provided via Wikimedia Commons.

I immediately thought of Émile Zola’s book on the miscarriage of justice regarding the Dreyfus Affair, J’accuse, I Accuse.

An airman charging a battery

A U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Franklin R. Ramos is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Airman 1st Class Ross Honomichl, 97th Civil Engineer Squadron power production journeyman, charges a battery at the power production warehouse, April 8.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: accuses
Past tense or past participle: accused
Gerund or present participle: accusing

Noun 1
intransitive & primarily transitive 2

Noun plural: charges
Third person present verb: charges
Past tense or past participle: charged
Gerund or present participle: charging

Charge someone with an offense or crime

  • Claim that someone has done something wrong
A price asked for goods or services

  • Cost
  • A financial liability or commitment
  • [Accounting & Book-keeping] Tax
  • [Accounting & Book-keeping] A debt or a book entry recording it

An accusation, typically one formally made against a prisoner brought to trial

The responsibility of taking care or control of someone or something

  • A person or thing entrusted to the care of someone
  • [Dated] A responsibility or onerous duty assigned to someone
  • An official instruction, especially one given by a judge to a jury regarding points of law

[Physics] The property of matter that is responsible for electrical phenomena, existing in a positive or negative form

  • The quantity of matter responsible for electrical phenomena carried by a body
  • Energy stored chemically for conversion into electricity
  • An act or process of storing electrical energy in a battery or other capacitor
  • A quantity of electricity determined by the product of an electric current and the time for which it flows, measured in coulombs
  • The total amount of electricity held in an accumulator, usually measured in ampere-hours
    • Symbol: q or Q

[Singular; informal] A thrill

[Firearms, Gunnery, Ordnance & Artillery] A quantity of explosive to be detonated, typically in order to fire a gun or similar weapon

  • A cartridge or shell
  • The explosive required to discharge a firearm or other weapon
  • An amount of explosive material to be detonated at any one time

A headlong rush forward, typically one made by attacking soldiers in battle

[Heraldry] A device or bearing placed on a shield or crest

[Narcotics, 1920s] An injection of a narcotic

Verb, intransitive:
Demand an amount as a price from someone for a service rendered or goods supplied

Store electrical energy in a battery or battery-operated device

Rush forward in attack

Verb, transitive:
Demand an amount as a price from someone for a service rendered or goods supplied

  • Charge something to record the cost of something as an amount payable by someone or on an account

Accuse someone of something, especially an offense under law

  • [With clause] Make an accusation or assertion that
  • [Law] Accuse someone of an offense

Entrust someone with a task as a duty or responsibility

Store electrical energy in a battery or battery-operated device

  • Load or fill a container, gun, etc., to the full or proper extent
  • Fill or pervade something with a quality or emotion

[Heraldry] Place a heraldic bearing on

He was accused of murdering his wife’s lover.

He was accused of favoritism.

What exactly are you accusing me of?

She was accused of lying on the employment application.

John plans to accuse you of bribery.

She threatened to accuse of rape!

There is an admission charge to see the paintings.

An asset of $550,000 should have been taken as a charge on earnings.

He appeared in court on a charge of attempted murder.

Three people were arrested but released without charge.

The prosecution dropped the charges for lack of evidence.

The evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in that behavior, and the accused has no defense to the charge (Leipold, 253).

The people in her charge are pupils and not experimental subjects.

The babysitter watched over her charges.

She is your ward, your charge until she comes of age.

That battery needs a charge.

Neutrons are particles that have no electric charge and are slightly more massive than protons.

I get a real charge out of working hard.

What kind of ol’ creep’d get a charge out of this stuff?

There are two kinds of charge: color charge and electric charge.

What kind of charge does that cannon need anyway?

The charge of the Light Brigade was doomed.

The family shield includes a charge of three lions.

Verb, intransitive:
Museums should charge for admission.

Can you charge this battery?

The plan is to charge headlong at the enemy.

The Light Brigade charged forward in a futile attack at the behest of incompetent commanders.

Henry charged up the staircase.

Verb, transitive:
The restaurant charged $15 for dinner.

He charged me 2 euros for the postcard.

They charge the calls to their credit-card accounts.

They were charged with assault.

Opponents charged that below-cost pricing would reduce safety.

The committee was charged with reshaping the educational system.

The shaver can be charged up and used while traveling.

Will you see to it that your glasses are charged?

The air was charged with menace.

It includes a pennant argent, charged with a cross gules.

Noun: accused, accuser Adjective: chargeable, charged, chargeless, self-charging, well-charged
Noun: chargee, large charge
Phrasal Verb
carrying charge
charge off
charge up
charge with
free of charge
get a charge out of
in charge
in charge of
in the charge of
prefer charges
press charges
take charge
History of the Word:
First known use: 14th century

Middle English from the Old French acuser, which is from the Latin accusare meaning call to account from ad- (toward) + causa (reason, motive, lawsuit).

Middle English in the general senses of to load and a load from the Old French:

  • 1 charge
  • 2 charger

both of which are from the late Latin carricare or carcare meaning to load from the Latin carrus meaning wheeled vehicle.

Return to top

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?