- \ \  The notion underlying the word charge is of a ‘load’ or ‘burden’ – and this can still be detected in many of its modern meanings, as of a duty laid on one like a load, or of the burden of an expense, which began as metaphors. It comes ultimately from Latin carrus ‘two-wheeled wagon’ (source also of English car). From this was derived the late Latin verb carricāre ‘load’, which produced the Old French verb charger and, via the intermediate Vulgar Latin *carrica, the Old French noun charge, antecedents of the English words. The literal sense of ‘loading’ or ‘bearing’ has now virtually died out, except in such phrases as ‘charge your glasses’, but there are reminders of it in cargo , which comes from the Spanish equivalent of the French noun charge, and indeed in carry, descended from the same ultimate source.\ \ The origins of the verb sense ‘rush in attack’ are not altogether clear, but it may have some connection with the sense ‘put a weapon in readiness’. This is now familiar in the context of firearms, but it seems to have been used as long ago as the 13th century with reference to arrows.\ \ The Italian descendant of late Latin carricāre was caricare, which meant not only ‘load’ but also, metaphorically, ‘exaggerate’. From this was derived the noun caricatura, which reached English via French in the 18th century as caricature.\ \ Cf.⇒ CAR, CARGO, CARICATURE
Word origins - 2ed. J. Ayto. 2005.