Fraught

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Another word that you don’t tend to find being taught or used that often by speakers of English as a second language According to Google’s trawling of the corpus world, it is not however going out of fashion.

There are two main uses of fraught basically:

Sailing in the Indian ocean is fraught with danger given the number of pirates in the area.

Doing up an old house can be fraught with difficulties and hidden structural ‘surprises’.

 So, the first meaning is ‘full of’ and we are referring to negative or unpleasant things.

The other meaning, probably less commonly used, is that of worried, anxious or tense.

fraught party

(Jen Yuson Photography)

The mood at the reception suddenly became fraught when her drunk ex-husband turned up.

 Relations between the two departments are somewhat fraught at the moment since the discovery of the theft.

 What I did not know before is that the word derives from Middle Dutch and means laden with something, like a cargo. So, it is a relative of the word freight! Interesting how some offshoots stand the test of the time!

 

Tranche

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From the French, meaning a slice or a portion, this word has started appearing with greater frequency in financial and legal circles.

The loan should be repaid in four tranches, one every three months.

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The former president has a tranche of law suits to answer to in his name.

The residents will receive their compensation in three tranches, the first at the beginning of the work and the others to be paid as the project is completed.

So while the word is clearly used in the jargon of bankers and economists, it is also starting to gain ground in the media and in everyday English.

Umpteen

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Another of those words, which sounds fun in English is umpteen.  Basically it is a substitute word for countless or a very high number which we do not wish to or cannot specify.

I have umpteen orders waiting on my desk to action on Monday

It also has an ordinal number form.

This is the umpteenth time I’ve told you to clean your room

For a commonly used concept, the term is relatively new and supposedly emerged from use by the British Army in World War 1.

There are umpteen dozen ways of making a mistake in this job so make sure you pay special attention.

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 Larry has called Judy umpteen times this weekend. He sure is persistent!

Bare bones

bare bones

Another graphic expression.  The bare bones of something are the bare essentials, without any flesh or padding.  The meaning is very clear!

The bare bones of the story are as follows: boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a baby, boy cheats on girl, they have a bitter separation.

Just give me the bare bones of your problem, I don’t need to know all the ins and outs you have had with the Ministry.