1 of 3

noun (1)

: a flat structure (as of wood) for support or transportation on water
"How shall we cross the river?" asked Dorothy. "That is easily done," replied the Scarecrow. "The Tin Woodman must build us a raft, so we can float to the other side." So the Woodman took his axe and began to chop down small trees to make a raftL. Frank Baum
… has made a living poling a raft on the Suchiate for two decades …María Verza and Sonia Pérez
In addition to a gorgeous 400' long sandy beach with a swim raft, there are 44 boat docks which are licensed to individual … homeowners.Frank Roche
also : an inflatable flat-bottomed watercraft
Finally, the three astronauts, wearing their isolation garments, clambered out of the spacecraft into a rubber raft. Brian Duff
All my fishing gear, which sometimes included an inflatable raft, went into a backpack so that my hands would be free to carry my shotgun. Nelson Bryant
: a collection of logs or timber fastened together in order to be floated downstream (as to a sawmill)
Soviet loggers commonly float individual logs down rivers to sawmills, rather than lashing them together in rafts.A. Kent MacDougall
: a floating naturally cohesive mass
rafts of kelp
Home sites and hunting vantage points would have been undercut by the waves, salt meadows would have become angry shallow seas, and bitter salt and rafts of sea ice would have killed the willow brush and rich sedge meadows of the river deltas.William W. Fitzburg and Aron Crowell
: an aggregation of animals (such as waterfowl) resting on the water
a raft of ducks


2 of 3


rafted; rafting; rafts

transitive verb

: to transport by means of a raft (see raft entry 1 sense 1a)
Lewis was rafting supplies cross river … when he dumped his raft, soaking his chronometer.Fred Haefele
: to transport in the form of a raft (see raft entry 1 sense 1b)
… the logs which had been floating in them were swept down the river to the sea before being rafted away to the sawmills.D. A. Bathgate
: to convey (something, such as pebbles) in floating ice or masses of organic material
… sediment deposits are dominated by rock fragments released by melting ice. Even large rocks are rafted out and then released as the ice melts.M. Grant Gross
: to travel along or across (a river or other body of water) on a raft
Although the writing is somewhat pedestrian, river rats will enjoy the 27 accounts … of rafting rivers in 11 Western states.Tom Miller
: to make into a raft
rafted the logs

intransitive verb

: to travel by raft
rafted across moderate rapids
raftable adjective
raftable white water


3 of 3

noun (2)

: a large collection or number

Examples of raft in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Smith spent time spear fishing and rafting down the Amazon River with his dad and siblings. Michal Lev-Ram, Fortune, 22 Aug. 2023 There’s time to visit Lake Louise, Banff, and Jasper and there’s also rafting on the Kicking Horse River. Everett Potter, Forbes, 13 Aug. 2023 In Wyoming, the Thomases fished, rafted on the Snake River and sat by a campfire overlooking the Teton Range with the other couples. Brett Murphy, ProPublica, 10 Aug. 2023 Sheila Concannon, who owns rafting company New Waves Adventures, said the road closure has led visitors to explore more activities just outside the park. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 16 July 2023 Comparably epic and decidedly more accessible, rafting the Green and Yampa Rivers through Dinosaur National Monument offers a similar experience of racing rapids, towering canyon walls and remote mountain and desert wilderness (and received just 350,000 visitors in 2022). Lauren Sloss, Chicago Tribune, 10 July 2023 Besides the Skywalk, Grand Canyon West has canyon overlooks, hiking trails at Hualapai Point and Guano Point, rafting along the Colorado River, helicopter and pontoon boat tours, Native American cultural experiences and a zipline. Michael Salerno, USA TODAY, 16 July 2023 The spring season is ideal for rafting and kayaking the Colorado River, and in June, the longstanding Strawberry Days Festival brings the whole community out for free live music, arts and craft vendors, and great eats. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 3 July 2023 Now rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a major commercial endeavor and a hallmark of the park experience for adventurous tourists (though modern rafting trips have luxuries Clover and Jotter could not have imagined). The Arizona Republic, 24 May 2023
However, although there are rafts of savings options and government support structures for college hopefuls, there are far fewer to help bridge financial gaps for new parents. Eleanor Pringle, Fortune, 14 Sep. 2023 As the company’s engineers explained during its AI Day event last year, the feature is powered by multiple programs and machine learning systems designed to handle a raft of different road tasks, such as steering or decoding road markings. WIRED, 14 Sep. 2023 The tennis tour has in recent months issued a raft of bans and suspensions. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 In 2011, Williams used it together with a raft of other techniques to prove that a certain restricted model of computation couldn’t solve some extraordinarily hard problems — a result that had eluded researchers for 25 years. Quanta Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Among the last, Rockman paints a container ship and a Cuban refugee raft. Cate McQuaid, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Aug. 2023 Zimbabwe suffers from a raft of economic problems, including high inflation and an escalating cost-of-living crisis. Nimi Princewill, CNN, 13 Sep. 2023 Nearly wiped out by fur hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries, California’s population would have been gone for good had a raft of a few dozen not eluded the slaughter off the rocky coast of Big Sur. Dino Grandoni and Melina Mara, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Sep. 2023 The victim said Sheeran left him alone for about 15 minutes and then returned on a raft with the other boy, paddling toward him. Travis Andersen, BostonGlobe.com, 11 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle English rafte rafter, raft, from Old Norse raptr rafter

Noun (2)

alteration of raff jumble

First Known Use

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1667, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

1821, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of raft was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near raft

Cite this Entry

“Raft.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raft. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 noun
: a flat structure (as a group of logs fastened together) for support or transportation on water


2 of 3 verb
: to transport or move on or by means of a raft


3 of 3 noun
: a large amount or number


Middle English rafte "rafter, raft"; of Norse origin


probably an altered form of earlier raff "jumble"

More from Merriam-Webster on raft

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!