from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Filled with a specified element or elements; charged.
  • adjective Marked by or causing distress; emotional.
  • noun Freight; cargo.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Freighted; laden; loaded; charged; replete: chiefly in figurative use: as, a vessel richly fraught with goods from India; a scheme fraught with mischief.
  • To lade; load; freight (a ship).
  • Figuratively, to fill; store; charge.
  • To form or make up the freight of a vessel; constitute a vessel's freight or cargo.
  • noun A load; cargo; freight (of a ship).
  • noun The sum paid for the transportation of a load or cargo. Compare fraught-money.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Freighted; laden; filled; stored; charged.
  • noun obsolete A freight; a cargo.
  • transitive verb obsolete To freight; to load; to burden; to fill; to crowd.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete The hire of a ship or boat to transport cargo.
  • noun obsolete Money paid to hire a ship or boat to transport cargo; freight
  • noun obsolete The transportation of goods, especially in a ship or boat.
  • noun obsolete A ship's cargo, lading or freight.
  • noun Scotland A load; a burden.
  • noun Scotland Two bucketfuls (of water).
  • verb transitive To load (a ship, cargo etc.).
  • adjective Laden.
  • adjective Furnished, equipped.
  • adjective figuratively Loaded-up, charged or accompanied.
  • adjective Distressed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective filled with or attended with
  • adjective marked by distress


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, past participle of fraughten, to load, from fraght, cargo; see freight, and from Middle Dutch vrachten, to load (from vracht, freight; see aik- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, 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 *eik'- (“to possess”). Cognate with Old High German frēht ("earnings"), Old English ǣht ("owndom"). More at for-, own.


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  • Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,

    Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies.

    Milton, Paradise Lost II

    December 18, 2006

  • frequently misused, because it sounds like 'taut'. Actually means "full". If adjectives could be classified as transitive and intransitive, then this would be intransitive, in that it needs to be followed by a preposition (with).

    Middle English, past participle of obsolete verb fraughten, to load. Cf freight

    July 16, 2008

  • I'm pretty certain it doesn't and can't mean "full", which seems to be a completely obsolete sense. The OED doesn't give any post-1800 prose citations for that sense. From then on, it's always 'fraught with danger', 'fraught with difficulty', etc.— the modern senses when used with 'with' (i.e. with a prepositional phrase complement). Checking Google and the British National Corpus confirms this.

    Used absolutely (i.e. without a PP complement), it seems to always have the ordinary modern sense "tense, difficult, distressing". This is a recent sense—the unrevised OED (2nd. ed.) only has quotations back to 1966—but it's clearly a very common and standard meaning. BNC quotations include:

    The whole fraught episode must signify something.

    And then the fraught silence would modulate into conciliatory monosyllable, and back to their peaceful co-existence.

    Out of this fraught legal and financial tangle the bureau worker must work with the client to create order and stability.

    Obviously as you get a little bit closer to it it gets rather more fraught.

    —So this is what the word actually means.

    July 16, 2008

  • How can "fraught with danger" not mean "filled with danger".

    "Common and standard" doesn't mean "correct". But where/when does incorrect become correct? I often hear people on tv saying "between you and I" but that can't ever be correct, however common it is.

    July 16, 2008

  • Etymology suggest two different sources:

    Middle English 'fraughten'

    Middle Dutch 'vrachten'

    July 16, 2008

  • I'm pretty certain it doesn't and can't mean "full"

    Sorry, qroqqa, I don't understand your reasoning here at all. Why not? And if not that, then what does it mean? You don't really address that.

    I have to say that jmp's comments seem to make far more sense than yours here. But then, I confess to a certain MEGO* reaction to jargon like "prepositional phrase complement".

    *: 'my eyes glaze over'.

    But maybe I'm missing something.

    July 16, 2008

  • I think this page is pretty fraught.

    July 16, 2008

  • I've always thought fraught meant "full" or "filled with" -- but never with anything "good."

    July 16, 2008

  • Yeah, chained_bear -- there's a whole lot of fraughttage going on.

    July 16, 2008

  • I think it's generally used in that way, but only through some trick of archaic grammar. "Marked by distress" is just the most perfect definition of it. Thanks, WeirdNET!

    ptero... will you please add that so I can shamelessly rip it off? Thanks.

    July 16, 2008

  • Well, who doesn't enjoy a bit of early-morning fraughttage to start the day?

    If my earlier question came across as snarky, my apologies. Didn't mean it that way. And I think I understand what qroqqa is saying when it is used absolutely. But I seem to come across it more often in the "fraught with X" kind of usage, where X is something like danger/difficulty/tension/complexity. Which I interpret as being essentially the same as "full of X".

    July 16, 2008

  • 'Fraught' overlaps with 'full' in that you can use them in the same narrow context: 'fraught with danger', 'full of danger'. But you can't use it as if it meant just "full"—as in 'full of beans', 'full up to the top', 'full from eating', 'inflate till it's full', etc. etc.

    In fact the original sense "laden, full" scarcely seems to have survived till 1700. Here are the latest applicable prose quotations the OED has for various uses. (Poetic uses of course lingered longer.)

    1666: Smaller Vessels that lay fraught for the Streights.

    1668: The ships are said to be richly fraughted.

    1671: And Waggons fraught with Utensils of War.

    1755: Liberty, fraught with blessings as it is, when unabused, has, perhaps, been abused to our destruction.

    1786: The little princess had excited her curiosity by the full-fraught pincushion.

    1798: From these retreats, he often returned fraughted with light.

    1803: He returned to Oxford full fraught with Greek.

    The original sense was last used literally in 1668—the absurd claim that it still means this is three hundred and forty years out of date!

    July 16, 2008

  • whimper

    July 16, 2008

  • I wonder what a "full-fraught pincushion" is. How it's both full and fraught, and with what?

    "Fraughted" is interesting, because it seems like it should have been fraughtened.

    July 16, 2008

  • And the citation:1671: And Waggons fraught with Utensils of War. to me has a strictly literal meaning - loaded with.

    July 16, 2008

  • this isn't the only place where a lot of fraughttage is going on...

    see gambol

    July 16, 2008

  • Yes, jmp, but loaded with "Utensils of War" (bad) ...not cookies (good)!

    July 17, 2008

  • You know, qroqqa, all respect and everything, but I'm going to say "fraught with beans" and "fraught with hot air" and all sorts of fraughttage misuses from now on. In general I believe strongly that we should all use this word as often as possible. Take back the fraught!

    July 17, 2008

  • There's glory for you, c_b!

    July 17, 2008

  • I think fraught can mean full. Words can mean what you want them to mean: the Alice in Wonderland principle. I'm fraught with joy at the rediscovery of this word. A few hundred years of dormancy is no barrier to effective modern use, in my opinion. Isn't somebody growing wheat with seeds recovered from Pompei?

    July 17, 2008

  • I'm with qroqqa. It can mean full (these days), but only in a few specific circumstances. People aren't fraught with Greek anymore.

    Look at the quotation from PL by brtom a year ago: if this means "full", Satan is "full full" with mischievous revenge (obv. the first full isn't the same as our modern full, but still).

    July 17, 2008

  • (I think that quote readsa whole lot better if you insert a mental comma after Thither full

    July 17, 2008

  • Do you see the cup as half fraught or half empty?

    He's really fraught of himself.

    I'm fraught, I can't eat another bite.

    You're so fraught of shit your eyes are brown.

    I can't take on that project, my plate is fraught.

    July 17, 2008

  • Sorry to be late for this interesting conversation. I'm persuaded by JMP, qroqqa, and the OED that "fraught" originally meant "full, laden, etc." in all senses (i.e. "freighted") but that eventually its meaning narrowed, in general usage, to "filled with tension, distress, risk, and so on". Bilby's determination to resuscitate the older, broader meaning is commendable, but I am doubtful of its success. To mean the interesting question is, why did "fraught" narrow its meaning precisely to this noirish content. My guess is not so much that it sounds like "taut" (there is nothing inherently ominous about tautness) but because it seems to align (and perhaps confuse) itself with other dark "fr-" participial words: frayed, afraid, frightened. Folk etymology is a powerful force in the development of meaning.

    July 20, 2008

  • I'd like to be fraught with chocolate right now.

    July 22, 2008

  • i wholeheartedly concur with this "fr-" theory.

    November 22, 2008

  • Yes. Beware frogapplause, our very own gunslinging, wafter-staling, mud-wrestling, flatmate-stomping conduit to the dark side.

    November 22, 2008

  • "I fought conflicting impulses to scream, burst into tears, or run...After a long, fraught pause, Alcide said, 'Let's get back in the truck.'" -Club Dead, by Charlaine Harris

    February 5, 2011

  • The Varyag's launch comes at a fraught time.

    Read more:,8599,2087973,00.html#ixzz1V1mCe73B

    August 14, 2011

  • The name Varyag is itself fraught with history, which is something the Time article fails to mention. It is the Russian word for "Varangian", a group related to the Vikings.

    August 15, 2011

  • Better a fraught than a draught, of moonshine, I always say.

    fraught - two bucketsful. --from the definitions.

    February 15, 2013

  • Geez, this was a good discussion. More fraughtrumble over on collogue.

    August 10, 2016