Sunday, August 15, 2010


Everyone in the blogosphere has already commented on the Atlantic article about Iran, The Point of No Return. In the odd chance you haven't read it yet, you should. Since I have no particular insights (only the conviction that the Israelis would be insane to rely on our feckless president to take military action against Iran), I'll simply raise a pedantic word usage question.

Early in the article, the author imagines telephone calls placed by Israeli officials to the White House and Pentagon advising that Israel was in the process of launching attacks on Iran. The description includes the following sentence (emphasis added):
In these conversations, which will be fraught, the Israelis will tell their American counterparts that they are taking this drastic step because a nuclear Iran poses the gravest threat since Hitler to the physical survival of the Jewish people.
The context suggests the author and editors think that "fraught" means something like "very tense" or "very strained". But to the best of my knowledge fraught has no such meaning, and a check of dictionaries discloses none. Alternatively, was a phrase such as "with tension" inadvertently dropped?

Did the sentence and usage of fraught not strike anyone else as strange? Any other thoughts?

The picture at the top, of Israeli jets flying over Auschwitz, is presumably the one referenced several times in the article.


  1. I think he's following the new journalistic usage which has become popular:

    Do a search on the NYT site for "fraught" and you'll find many "orphan" instances. However, it bothers me, since it's basically like saying "filled" and not saying with what.

  2. Malcolm,

    Thanks! This is a new one on me. Proof that I don't read the New York Times, I guess.


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