Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Charade

CHARADE, a trifling species of composition, or quasi-literary form of amusement, which may perhaps be best defined as a punning enigma propounded in a series of descriptions. A word is taken of two or more syllables, each forming a distinct word; each of these is described in verse or prose, as aptly and enigmatically as possible; and the same process is applied to the whole word. The neater and briefer the descriptive parts of the problem, the better the charade will be. In selecting words for charades, special attention should be paid to the absolute quality of the syllables composing them, inaccuracy in trifles of this sort depriving them of what little claim to merit they may possess. The brilliant rhythmic trifles of W. Mackworth Praed are well known. Of representative prose charades, the following specimens are perhaps as good as could be selected:—“My first, with the most rooted antipathy to a Frenchman, prides himself, whenever they meet, upon sticking close to his jacket; my second has many virtues, nor is its least that it gives its name to my first; my whole may I never catch!” “My first is company; my second shuns company; my third collects company; and my whole amuses company.” The solutions are Tar-tar and Co-nun-drum. “Acting charades” are simply punning enigmas described dramatically. A brilliant description of this variety of the species will be found in Thackeray's Vanity Fair.