From Middle English freyght, from Middle Dutch vracht, Middle Low German vrecht (cost of transport), from Proto-West Germanic *fra- + *aihti, ultimately from Proto-Germanic *fra- (intensive prefix) + Proto-Germanic *aihtiz (possession), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eyḱ- (to possess), equivalent to for- +‎ aught. Cognate with Old High German frēht (earnings), Old English ǣht (owndom), and a doublet of fraught. More at for-, own.


  • enPR: frāt, IPA(key): /fɹeɪt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪt


freight (usually uncountable, plural freights)

  1. Payment for transportation.
    The freight was more expensive for cars than for coal.
    • 1881, Federal Reporter, 1st Series, Vol. 6, p. 412:
      Had the ship earned her freight? To earn freight there must, of course, be either a right delivery, or a due and proper offer to deliver the goods to the consignees.
  2. Goods or items in transport.
    The freight shifted and the trailer turned over on the highway.
    • 2019 October, “South Wales open access bid”, in Modern Railways, page 15:
      Space for carrying light freight also features in Grand Union's proposal. The company says it is working with partners at Intercity Railfreight on the logistics of this, with refrigerated space to be available for movement of urgent NHS biological materials. Initially freight would be carried in the DVTs of the Class 91/Mk 4 sets, while on the Class 802s the kitchen/buffet would be located towards the centre of the train to make space for freight.
  3. Transport of goods.
    They shipped it ordinary freight to spare the expense.
  4. (rail transport, countable) A freight train.
    • 1961 July, J.Geoffrey Todd, “Impressions of railroading in the United States: Part Two”, in Trains Illustrated, page 423:
      Two westbound freights were in the vicinity and the operator was kept busy passing them radio messages with the latest information on the late running of the streamliners, to allow the enginemen to keep moving until the last possible minute before they had to sidetrack their trains to let the fast trains overtake.
  5. (figuratively) Cultural or emotional associations.
    • 2007, B. Richards, Emotional Governance: Politics, Media and Terror (page 116)
      This may seem to be a quite unrealistic aim, until we note that some contributors to the emotional public sphere – advertising creatives – are very aware of the emotional freight that simple words may carry, []


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freight (third-person singular simple present freights, present participle freighting, simple past and past participle freighted)

  1. (transitive) To transport (goods).
  2. To load with freight. Also figurative.
    • 1957, James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues,” in Going to Meet the Man, Dial, 1965,[1]
      Everything I did seemed awkward to me, and everything I said sounded freighted with hidden meaning.
    • 2014 March 1, Rupert Christiansen, “English translations rarely sing”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review), page R19:
      English National Opera is a title freighted with implications, and that first adjective promises not only a geographical reach, but a linguistic commitment too.

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