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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English fraught, freght, from Middle Dutch vracht or Middle Low German vracht (freight money), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *fra- (intensive prefix) + Proto-Germanic *aihtiz (possession), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eyḱ- (to possess). Cognate with Old High German frēht (earnings), Old English ǣht (owndom), and a doublet of freight. More at for-, own. Adjective from Middle English, passive participle of the verb fraughten, from Middle Dutch vrachten.


fraught (usually uncountable, plural fraughts)

  1. (obsolete) The hire of a ship or boat to transport cargo.
  2. (obsolete) Money paid to hire a ship or boat to transport cargo; freight
    fraught money.
  3. (obsolete) The transportation of goods, especially in a ship or boat.
  4. (obsolete) A ship's cargo, lading or freight.
    • 1596, William Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd (uncertain), Edward III[1], Act III, scene iv:
      [] And now behold after my winters toyle, / My paynefull voyage on the boyſtrous ſea, / Of warres deuouring gulphes and ſteely rocks, / I bring my fraught vnto the wiſhed port / My Summers hope, my trauels ſweet reward []
  5. (Scotland) A load; a burden.
  6. (Scotland) Two bucketfuls (of water).
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English fraughten, fraghten, freghten, from Middle Dutch vrachten, vrechten, from the noun (see above).


fraught (third-person singular simple present fraughts, present participle fraughting, simple past and past participle fraughted)

  1. (transitive, obsolete except in past participle) To load (a ship, cargo etc.).
  2. (intransitive, obsolete) To form the cargo of a vessel.
    • 1610, William Shakespeare, The Tempest
      Had I been any god of power, I would / Have sunk the sea within the earth, or e'er / It should the good ship so have swallow'd and / The fraughting souls within her.


fraught (comparative more fraught, superlative most fraught)

  1. (of a cargo-carrier) Laden.
  2. (figuratively, with with) Loaded up or charged with; accompanied by; entailing.
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions
      a discourse fraught with all the commending excellences of speech
    • a. 1865, Isaac Taylor, Epidemic Whims
      enterprises fraught with world-wide benefits
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 22:
      The simplest action was fraught with danger, and could only be accomplished with the aid of talismans and counter-spells[.]
    • 2005, Plato, Sophist. Translation by Lesley Brown. 236d.
      [] all these matters are fraught with paradox, just as they always have been
  3. (with with) Furnished, equipped.
  4. Distressed or causing distress, for example through complexity.
    a fraught relationship; a fraught process
    • 2014 October 21, Oliver Brown, “Oscar Pistorius jailed for five years – sport afforded no protection against his tragic fallibilities: Bladerunner's punishment for killing Reeva Steenkamp is but a frippery when set against the burden that her bereft parents, June and Barry, must carry [print version: No room for sentimentality in this tragedy, 13 September 2014, p. S22]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sport)[2]:
      But ever since the concept of "hamartia" recurred through Aristotle's Poetics, in an attempt to describe man's ingrained iniquity, our impulse has been to identify a telling defect in those brought suddenly and dramatically low. With [Oscar] Pistorius, that task is fraught.