It's All About Adaptation
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Start Your Engines

Well.  The weekend went whizzing by for me.

And now it's Monday.  And it's snowing.  

Time to . . . 


. . . with some flotsam and jetsam that washed up for me over the busy weekend.


A Quote

"Another fall, another turned page."
 --- Wallace Stegner



A Word

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to the gym, I heard a segment on NPR's Weekend Edition about the word fraught.  It wasn't so much what the word fraught means . . . as how it is used -- and how that word usage is changing over time.  I really wanted to share that segment with you all, but I can't find it on the NPR site!  I'll try to make do on my own.

First off, here is the dictionary definition of the word (a word so common I'm sure I don't really need to include the definition, but it does make things more interesting, I think). . .


(Please note that I am not including entries 2 and 3 of 3 here.  Entry 2 is using fraught as a noun, while entry 3 is using fraught as a verb.  Neither of these "fraught usages" are currently in use, and neither of them are relevant for this post -- or the NPR segment.)


Most of the time I use, read, or hear the word fraught in language, it is accompanied by the prepositional phrase with, as in. . .
fraught with danger
fraught with anxiety
fraught with tension

But lately, I've noticed that some people use the word fraught all by itself.  As in . . . The situation was fraught.  No with involved.

And this is what the NPR segment was all about.  They mentioned that the word origin of fraught was actually related to definition 3, above (the "archaic" one):  laden, or freight.  As in . . .  loaded with.  And that's how fraught with evolved in common usage -- it needed that with because it was describing being laden with something.

But now, fraught is evolving further . . . to be an acceptable, stand-alone adjective.  So.  If you hear the word fraught being used all by itself . . . well, relax.  It's okay.  Fraught is now an acceptable adjective meaning "distressed, anxious, or tense."  Without a with.




Looking for a good non-fiction book to sink your teeth into?  Here's a list of the 20 best works of non-fiction in the current decade.  (I can personally attest to the excellence of several of the selections on the list -- and think everyone should read The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.)


And . . . that's it for this Monday!  I hope your week is off to a good start.  (And not . . . fraught.)


PS - Be sure to join us for the Read With Us book discussion - Week 2 - over at Bonny's tomorrow!  


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It's from a Michigan Radio segment titled That's What They Say here:


Thanks for that nonfiction list! I've read several, but there are so many more that look quite interesting. I especially love the inclusion of "Dissenting Opinions" and Honorable Mentions; this will provide me with nonfiction titles for a long time.

I'm also glad for the discussion of fraught. I tend to be one of those people that gets upset when I think language is being used sloppily, but then I remember it is always growing and evolving. I just had a discussion about knit vs knitted that was interesting and fraught is much the same. It has made me think about the motivations for changes in language (but I'm never going to be okay with "no problem" as a reply to "thank you"!)


Ah, I do love Wallace Stegner's writing.

I have not heard fraught used by itself (yet), but I think I will always look for a "with ______" to go along with the word...I'm an old dog and new tricks are hard for me - lol.

Thanks for the non fiction list - plenty to look over.


I am feeling less like a word nerd this morning because I have wondered about the same thing! I'd only ever heard "fraught with" and then started hearing "fraught" on its own, and it sounded so very wrong with me (I'm pretty sure I had to go look it up after hearing it that way on a podcast, to see if I was losing my mind or not).

Now if we could only solve this puzzle: Americans say that they are "done with" something (as in "I'm almost done with the sweater I'm knitting"), but Canadian seem to just say "done" ("I'm almost done the socks.") Why don't Canadians use the "with"?


It's funny how word evolution works. I think I've heard fraught used alone, "it was a fraught situation," without blinking. But I still can't read or hear the word "gift" used as a verb without flinching.

I think of myself as a fiction reader, but I've read several of the books on that list. The ones I've read (among them, Henrietta Lacks and Between the World and Me) have ended up being books I suggest and pass on to others. So maybe I need to look more seriously at some others from the list?


Every morning a particular anchor person (GS) says "I hope you're well this morning" and I always yell at him...doing well! When he said it correctly the other day I almost fell out of my chair. He was making me fraught! Thanks for the great links this morning Kym!


While I can roll with using fraught alone, I can't condone the use of "OK Boomer".

As a recipient of ageism speech in the last couple of months, I was quite disturbed to hear that term spoken in Parliament. Just another form of an "unwoke" person with a superiority complex.

Racism is not the only form of discrimination. Racism is NOT okay. Neither is ageism. and OK Boomer is NOT OKAY.


I loved that segment on NPR! And, Valerie is right - good old Michigan Radio! And, there is a portion of me that is fraught knowing all that! :)


Thanks, Dee, for responding to "ok boomer". I came in to complain about this myself.

Also, may I nitpick? If you look at definition 2 of fraught quoted above, it is an adjective, not a noun, as you can see by the example (a fraught relationship). Uneasy. Exactly what is being said when used with no "with".


Ooooh, that book list. It's fraught with emotion! Or should I be current and modern and just say it's fraught?!? Happy Monday, hope you are warm.


I'll throw my Everyone Should Read nomination to The Emperor of All Maladies (and yikes, it is only just starting to hit me that we are about to embark on a new decade - not that I'm fraught or anything ;-)


I love how words evolve. At first it’s annoying because it seems like careless use of the language. But as I see a particular example more and more I realize how contemporary life informs the need for such an evolution (such as with ‘fraught’) and I throw myself into the new usage in order to come to terms with it. (Sort of like a crack football star not averse to throwing a ‘Hail Mary’ even though he is an atheist.) And I agree with Bonny re “No Problem!” ...Grr.

On a side note your post on needle felting gave me the idea that it might be a great technique for repair - as in returning the ‘red’ to an adorable but slightly delapidated discount store Christmas thingy with a faded white spot on it’s felted red fur. (If the white spot had evolved through age it would be part of its charm - but it came that way!) So... Thanks for the inspiration, Kym!


I've read several books of the best 20 and agree with you on The Warmth of Other Suns. Also, Alexievich's book, even a thumb through, will open your eyes to the current situation in Russia. Thank your for opening our eyes to so much about language and literature!


That is a very interesting list of nonfiction. I have read several titles and will look for a few more from this list. Thanks for the link.

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