Ex. is it ok to say such and such is fraught. Full stop? In a case where the context makes it clear what its fraught with?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
This question came up in Ben Zimmer's "On Language" column in the May 21, 2010 New York Times. Zimmer does a nice job of outlining the history of the with-less fraught. In particular, he points to the 1920s as seeing the first occurrences of fraught "without even a hint of an object":
According to Zimmer, most of the increase in the usage has occurred in the past couple of decades. The entire column is well worth reading. Though Zimmer doesn't say so, I suspect that the usage may be much more firmly established in the United States than in the UK. In any event, I see it often in the New York Times and in the New Yorker.
A Google Books search turns up matches for unaided fraught as early as John Higgins, The Mirour for Magistrates (1587):
Here fraught means simply "freighted"—that is, laden or loaded.
By the 1800s, this earlier sense of stand-alone fraught had almost died out, and virtually all occurrences of fraught occurred in tandem with with. One of the few exceptions appears in a review of "The Obligations of the British Churches to Foreign Interference. A Sermon preached before the London Missionary Society, at Tottenham Court Chapel, May 12, 1825,By Richard Hamilton," in The Congregational Magazine (August 1825):
Another occurs in this speech from David Brown, The Prophet of St. Paul's, serialized in The North American Magazine (April 1835):
An from a London Clergyman, "A Summer Sunday on the Righi," in "Wind Wafted Seed" (1868):
The earliest twentieth-century instance of with-less fraught that a Google Books search finds is from "Unforgotten," in Genealogy of the Tapley Family (1900):
And the first prose occurrence is from Winifred James, Out of the Shadows (1924) [combined snippets]:
A Google Books search for "the fraught silence" (which may or may not be representative of the resurgent usage overall) returns dozens of matches; but only five are from before 1970, and most are from 1990 or later.
Probably. One of the meanings of Fraught is "distressed", how ever the word is used so rarely that except for special circumstances, I might suggest using a different word.
Maybe, but I don't think so.
This suggests that it requires two other things - a situation and a unpleasant noun. For example:
I speak British English, and I've never heard, or read it used on its own.
However, it can be used in this meaning (apparently):
But you still can't say:
Fraught with what!? I have to know! Tell me!1
It's like saying:
Into the what!? I have to know! Tell me!
1 Peril still. Or danger, but peril is cooler.
Here in Canada I have recently heard it used many times by the "hip" crowd on public broadcast radio without any with + something negative. I find that it just doesn't sound right when used on its own. I find myself wanting to know what a situation is fraught with. A radio announcer will talk about a "fraught" relationship in an author's life, etc.