Michael Quinion says it’s a weird word, so I guess I read weird books. Some early models had the benches raked so that everyone could see forward without standing up; accidents must have been spectacular. Spaniards travelled in char-á-bancs, as well as char-á-banes and charabáns (see porlan), and Cuba may have had the odd chalabán. Eric Partridge calls it a cherry-bounce (is this a plumtree-type euphemism?), which term was also applied to cherry brandy. I know which I’d take right now.

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