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A painful muscle spasm that most commonly occurs in the legs. Spending all day on my feet caused a charley horse in my leg that was so painful, I had to sit down for a while and rest.
a painful, persistent cramp in the arm or leg, usually from strain. (*Typically: get ~; have ~; give someone ~.) Don't hike too far or you'll get a charley horse.
Cramp or stiffness in a muscle, most often in the thigh, as in After working in the garden I frequently get a bad charley horse. First used in the 1880s among baseball players, the term was soon extended to more general use. Its true origin is disputed. Among the more likely theories proposed is that it alludes to the name of either a horse or an afflicted ball player who limped like one of the elderly draft horses formerly employed to drag the infield.
An intensely painful sustained muscle spasm or cramp in the leg, most often the calf. Originally used from the late 1800s on in baseball, where it resulted from excessive strain, the term was later applied not only to sports injuries but other kinds of cramp. The origin of the name is not known, but probably it was first used by or for a player who limped like an old horse, Charley being the name of either the player or the horse. It has become a cliché.