Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Laden

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

What It Means

Laden describes things that are heavily loaded with something, literally or figuratively.

// Airline passengers laden with luggage inched slowly through the gate.

// His voice was heavily laden with sarcasm.

LADEN in Context

“While dating sites and apps can be convenient ways to meet a special someone, many singles find that the road to love is often laden with potholes and pitfalls.” — Charanna Alexander, The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2020

Did You Know?

Something that is laden seems to be, or actually is, weighed down by the large amount of whatever it’s carrying: tree branches laden with fruit bend toward the ground; newspaper articles laden with technical jargon are hard to read; and sugar-laden cereal is very, very sweet. Laden has been used as an adjective to describe heavily loaded things for a millennium, but its source is an even older verb: lade, meaning primarily “to load something.” Lade today mostly occurs in contexts relating to shipping; its related noun lading may be familiar from the phrase bill of lading, which refers to a document listing goods to be shipped and the terms of their transport. Laden is itself sometimes used as a verb meaning “to load something” (as in “ladening the truck with equipment”), and an adjectival form of that word sometimes appears too, as in “a truck ladened with equipment.” Plain old laden is preferred in such cases though: “a truck laden with equipment.”

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