Saturday, January 31, 2015


Clarence found this in the January 31 edition of the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

“Twice this month, the White House has publicly grappled with the politically fraught language of terrorism.”

Clarence asked about the word fraught in that sentence. The adjective comes from the past participle form of the verb, which owes its existence to a German/Dutch/Swedish nexus of a word meaning to load a ship with cargo. As such, it is closely connected to the word freight.

In effect, the idea could have been expressed by the words “politically loaded language.” Synonyms include filled, charged, laden—a form of the verb lade, which meant to load cargo onto a ship. Another nautical image appearing in the original sentence above is contained in the verb grappled. Originally, to grapple was to seize or hold a ship with a grapple, which was an implement furnished with large, strong hooks.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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