Charset is actually more than a lazy man's abbreviation for character set. It comes from MIME standards and the RFC for IANA's charset registry. From RFC 2978:
HISTORICAL NOTE: The term "character set" was originally used in MIME to describe such straightforward schemes as US-ASCII and ISO-8859-1 which consist of a small set of characters and a simple one-to-one mapping from single octets to single characters. Multi-octet character encoding schemes and switching techniques make the situation much more complex. As such, the definition of this term was revised to emphasize both the conversion aspect of the process, and the term itself has been changed to "charset" to emphasize that it is not, after all, just a set of characters. A discussion of these issues as well as specification of standard terminology for use in the IETF appears in RFC 2130.