This Charette is Not A Tumbril
The high school in my community is about to undergo a major redesign. I opened the morning paper and read the following headline:
Details of tonight’s high school design charette revealed Wednesday
I was puzzled because the only meaning for charette/charrette I was acquainted with was “wheeled cart,” like the one that hauled Sidney Carton to the guillotine in A Tale of Two Cities.
Come to find out, charette, also spelled charet, is a term much used in urban planning. Here’s the new definition as added to the OED in 2007
charet, n. Chiefly N. Amer. (orig. Archit.). A period of intense (group) work, typically undertaken in order to meet a deadline. Also: a collaborative workshop focusing on a particular problem or project; (Town Planning) a public meeting or conference devoted to discussion of a proposed community building project. [Probably originally with reference to the former custom among French architecture students of using a cart to carry their work on the day of an exhibition: see Trésor de la Langue Française s.v. charrette.]
Now I understand when I read something like the following:
Herbert said that during the charette, boards will be provided with outlines of the campus.
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