I surfed the internet and found countless definitions for these terms and they are "kinda" representative of what you'd find on the internet:

  • Freight: Freight refers to the goods or commodities that are transported by various modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes. It's a broad term that encompasses any type of goods being transported, whether they are raw materials, finished products, equipment, or any other items. "Freight" is often used in the context of the charges or fees associated with transporting these goods, known as "freight charges."

  • Cargo: Cargo also refers to the goods being transported, but it's often used in the context of goods carried by ships, airplanes, or other large transport vessels. "Cargo" tends to be used when referring to the actual items being carried by a specific mode of transportation. For example, you might hear about "ship's cargo" or "airplane cargo" when discussing goods being moved by sea or air.

  • Shipment: A shipment refers to a specific load or quantity of goods that are shipped together as a single unit from one location to another. It can include one or more items, packages, or containers. A shipment can consist of cargo or freight, depending on the context. When you prepare items to be transported, package them together, and send them off, you're creating a shipment.

P.S. People across the internet and my industry (I am new to freight brokerage) use these words so interchangeably, that it's hard to differentiate. You'll find different definitions on every page you open (when I mean different, I mean different connotations).

  • 1
    Please edit your question to add the source of each quote, and a link if possible.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 26 at 12:48
  • 1
    Can you give any specific instance where any one of these 3 "used interchangeably" words is used in a way that causes you not to understand exactly what it means? If you can't, I think all you'll get here are more dictionary definitions. We can point out certain specific semantic or syntactic differences (it's not normally possible to refer to a freight with the indefinite article, a shipment normally refers to a specific instance of freight/cargo being transported, etc.), but you'll probably already know most things like that anyway, so it's a bit pointless. Aug 26 at 13:32
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    I support Fumblefingers' analysis. I think you'll need to give specific examples. For example, your synthesised definition of shipment is definitely not synonymous with that for freight, so it's actually kinda difficult to know what you're asking about.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 26 at 13:43
  • As has already been implied in other comments, the most important word in this question is specific in the account of what a shipment is. Reflecting on it will lead to the answer: a shipment is always something specific, and that differentiates that term from the other two, which are largely interchangeable. One is more likely to hear freight train and cargo plane than the other way round, but there is probably no deep reason for that.
    – jsw29
    Aug 26 at 18:42
  • @AndrewLeach I don't think those are quotes, they're the OP's summary of what they found in their research.
    – Barmar
    Aug 28 at 16:45


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