Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Fraught

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is fraught. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Fraught means “causing or having a lot of emotional stress or worry.” When fraught is used in the phrase “fraught with,” it means “full of something bad or unwanted.”

// Ever since their cat went missing, the atmosphere in their apartment has been fraught.

// The paper was poorly researched and fraught with errors.

FRAUGHT in Context

“Today, campus life is much more stressful, fraught, time-stressed and anxiety-ridden. Compared to high school, college is far more academically rigorous and represents the very first time that many students have ever earned less than an A.” — Steven Mintz, Inside Higher Ed, 2 Jan. 2023

Did You Know?

An early instance of the word fraught occurs in the 14th century poem Richard Coer de Lion, about England’s King Richard I. “The drowmound was so hevy fraught / That unethe myght it saylen aught” is about a large fast-sailing ship so heavily fraught—that is, loaded—that it can barely sail. The use is typical for the time; originally, something that was fraught was laden with freight. For centuries, fraught continued to be used in relation to loaded ships, but its use was eventually broadened for situations that are heavy with tension, emotion, or some other weighty characteristic.

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