1 of 3


: full of or accompanied by something specified
used with with
a situation fraught with danger
The paper was poorly researched and is fraught with errors.
: causing or characterized by emotional distress or tension : uneasy
a fraught relationship
: laden
: well supplied or provided


2 of 3


chiefly Scotland
: load, cargo


3 of 3


fraughted or fraught; fraughting

transitive verb

chiefly Scotland

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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.

Examples of fraught in a Sentence

Adjective every room in my childhood home is fraught with memories had a fraught meeting with his estranged wife to discuss a divorce settlement
Recent Examples on the Web
The loss of Iran’s hard-line president comes at a fraught moment for the Islamic Republic, which is under pressure both at home and abroad like never before in recent decades. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 May 2024 Julia Sadusky, a psychologist in Colorado, is one of relatively few expert voices who has stepped into that fraught territory between anti-trans fear and zeal on the right, and what some see as a progressive orthodoxy on the left that leaves little space for parental doubts. Ruth Graham, New York Times, 17 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for fraught 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fraught.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English frauȝt, frawt "loaded, burdened," from past participle of fraughten "to load (a ship with cargo)" — more at fraught entry 3

Note: See note at fraught entry 2.


Middle English fraght, fraught (early Scots fraught), borrowed from Middle Dutch & Middle Low German vracht "cargo, charge for transport," borrowed from Old Frisian, going back to West Germanic *fraihti-, probably "what is given over or consigned to someone" — more at freight entry 1

Note: English has borrowed the same continental Germanic etymon in two distinct forms, exemplified by fraught entry 2 and synonymous freight entry 1. The first of these was a loan from Middle Dutch and Middle Low German, though the a vocalism suggests that its source is ultimately Old Frisian. At a relatively early date it spread south and west into the Dutch speech area, and east into the Low German area, presumably as a commercial term, and then from these areas to English and the Scandinavian languages. (See M. de Vaan, "West-Germanic *ai in Frisian," Amsterdamer Beiträge zur alteren Germanistik, Band 67 [2011], pp. 301-14.) English also borrowed Middle Dutch vrecht, whence freight entry 1, with the e vocalism exemplifying the normal development of Germanic *ai in this position in Dutch. In present-day English, only freight continues the noun, The noun and verb fraught are now only represented by Scots fraucht, fracht, still perhaps in regional use (see The Concise Scots Dictionary), while fraught as an adjective persists only in figurative senses.


Middle English fraughten (early Scots frawcht), verbal derivative of fraght, fraught "load, freight" — more at fraught entry 2

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fraught was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near fraught

Cite this Entry

“Fraught.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: full of something specified
fraught with danger

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