Monday, July 16, 2007



These days, fraught is usually followed by ominous phrases such as “with danger,” “with peril,” or “with risk,” but its close relative is the word freight.

Originally, fraught stood for the money paid for a transport vessel or the act of transport itself. Later, the noun designated the cargo in the hold. It ended as any burden or load. In Sir James Barrie’s Little Minister, we find the line “. . . to carry a fraught of water to the manse.” According to the OED, this would have amounted to two pailfuls.

At various times, the verb form meant to load a ship, to hire a vessel, and to equip. The past participle (fraught) means attended with, carrying with it as an attribute or accompaniment, or filled with promise or menace.

Archaic forms include fraughtage (Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, IV. i. 87: “Our fraughtage sir, I haue conuei'd aboord.”) and fraughtsman.

SIDEBAR: fraught quotes

SIDEBAR: listen to the central Iowa band Fraught

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