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Take in charge

Posted by R. Berg on February 03, 2003

In Reply to: Take in charge posted by Stephen on February 03, 2003

: Can anyone tell me more about the meaning of the phrase "to take in charge," -- as when we talk about someone taking someone else in charge. I get the impression it implies an imperious attitude toward another, having someone do your bidding. But I would like a more detailed explanation of the meaning, if one is available.

It can be used to mean something more in the nature of caretaking or guardianship, which, of course, brings along the possibility of giving commands.

Two senses of "charge," noun, from the Oxford English Dict., 1st ed.:

The duty or responsibility of taking care of (a person or thing); care, custody, superintendence. Phrase, "To have, take, give (the) charge of." [One of the OED's quotations:] Macaulay, 1841, "His uncle . . . determined to take charge of him."

"In charge (of)" is used both actively and passively; e.g., to leave children "in charge of" a nurse, or a nurse "in charge of" the children. The latter is the more recent use . . . "To give (a person) in charge": to hand over to the custody of the police. So "to have," "take in charge."

End quote from OED; back to me again. "Charge" originally (13th century) meant a physical burden, a load, a weight to carry. Taking someone in charge means assuming responsibility for that person.