[draft, drahft]
verb (used with object)
  1. Chiefly British. draft(defs 28–32).
verb (used without object)
  1. Chiefly British. draft(def 33).
  1. Chiefly British. draft(defs 35–37).

Origin of draught

1150–1200; Middle English draht (cognate with Dutch dracht, German Tracht, Old Norse drāttr); akin to Old English dragan to draw, drōht a pull (at the oars)
Related formsdraught·er, nounun·der·draught, noun
Can be confuseddraft draught drought (see pronunciation note at the current entry)

Pronunciation note

Draught is a variant spelling of draft and is normally pronounced the same way, as [draft] /dræft/ or [drahft] /drɑft/ or with a vowel somewhere between [a] /æ/ and [ah] /ɑ/. A pronunciation [drawt] /drɔt/ is sometimes heard for draught, perhaps because -aught is frequently pronounced [-awt] /-ɔt/ elsewhere, as in caught and taught.


  1. a small, usually red or black disk of plastic or wood, used in playing checkers.
  2. checkers,
    1. Also called, British, draughts.(used with a singular verb)a game played by two persons, each with 12 playing pieces, on a checkerboard.
    2. (in a regenerative furnace) loosely stacked brickwork through which furnace gases and incoming air are passed in turn, so that the heat of the exhaust is absorbed and later transferred to the incoming air.
  3. a checkered pattern.
  4. one of the squares of a checkered pattern.
verb (used with object)
  1. to mark like a checkerboard.
  2. to diversify in color; variegate.
  3. to diversify in character; subject to alternations: Sorrow and joy have checkered his life.
Also British, che·quer.

Origin of checker

1250–1300; Middle English checker chessboard < Anglo-French escheker (by aphesis), equivalent to eschec check1 + -er -er2


[draft, drahft]
  1. a drawing, sketch, or design.
  2. a first or preliminary form of any writing, subject to revision, copying, etc.
  3. act of drawing; delineation.
  4. a current of air in any enclosed space, especially in a room, chimney, or stove.
  5. a current of air moving in an upward or downward direction.
  6. a device for regulating the current of air in a stove, fireplace, etc.
  7. an act of drawing or pulling loads.
  8. something that is drawn or pulled; a haul.
  9. an animal or team of animals used to pull a load.
  10. the force required to pull a load.
  11. the taking of supplies, forces, money, etc., from a given source.
  12. a selection or drawing of persons, by lot or otherwise, from the general body of the people for military service; levy; conscription.
  13. the persons so selected.
  14. Sports. a selecting or drawing of new players from a choice group of amateur players by professional teams, especially a system of selecting new players so that each team in a professional league receives some of the most promising players.
  15. British. a selection of persons already in military service to be sent from one post or organization to another; detachment.
  16. a written order drawn by one person upon another; a writing directing the payment of money on account of the drawer; bill of exchange.
  17. a drain or demand made on anything.
  18. draft beer.
  19. an act of drinking or inhaling.
  20. something that is taken in by drinking or inhaling; a drink; dose.
  21. a quantity of fish caught.
  22. Nautical. the depth to which a vessel is immersed when bearing a given load.
  23. Also called leave. Metallurgy. the slight taper given to a pattern so that it may be drawn from the sand without injury to the mold.
  24. Metalworking.
    1. the change in sectional area of a piece of work caused by a rolling or drawing operation.
    2. a taper on a die or punch permitting it to be withdrawn readily from the work.
  25. Masonry. a line or border chiseled at the edge of a stone, to serve as a guide in leveling the surfaces.
  26. Textiles.
    1. the degree of attenuation produced in fibers during yarn processing, expressed either by the ratio of the weight of raw to the weight of processed fiber, or by the ratio between the varying surface speeds of the rollers on the carding machine.
    2. the act of attenuating the fibers.
  27. an allowance granted to a buyer for waste of goods sold by weight.
verb (used with object)
  1. to draw the outlines or plan of; sketch.
  2. to draw up in written form; compose.
  3. to draw or pull.
  4. to take or select by draft, especially for military service.
  5. Masonry. to cut a draft on.
verb (used without object)
  1. to do mechanical drawing; work as a draftsman.
  2. (in an automobile race) to drive or ride close behind another car so as to benefit from the reduction in air pressure created behind the car ahead.
  1. used or suited for drawing loads: a draft horse.
  2. drawn or available to be drawn from a cask rather than served from a sealed bottle: draft ale.
  3. being a tentative or preliminary outline, version, design, or sketch.
  1. on draft, available to be drawn from a cask rather than from a sealed bottle: imported beer on draft.
Also especially British, draught (for defs 1, 3–10, 18–25, 28–33, 35–38).

Origin of draft

later spelling of draught (since 16th century)
Related formsdraft·a·ble, adjectivedraft·er, nounan·ti·draft, adjectivepre·draft, noun, verb (used with object)re·draft, verb (used with object)un·draft·a·ble, adjectiveun·draft·ed, adjective
Can be confuseddraft draught
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for draughts

Historical Examples of draughts

British Dictionary definitions for draughts


  1. (functioning as singular) a game for two players using a draughtboard and 12 draughtsmen each. The object is to jump over and capture the opponent's piecesUS and Canadian name: checkers

Word Origin for draughts

C14: plural of draught (in obsolete sense: a chess move)


noun, verb
  1. the usual US spelling of chequer
  1. textiles a variant spelling of chequer (def. 2)
  2. US and Canadian any one of the 12 flat thick discs used by each player in the game of checkersAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): draughtsman


noun mainly US and Canadian
  1. a cashier, esp in a supermarket
  2. an attendant in a cloakroom, left-luggage office, etc


  1. a plan, sketch, or drawing of something
  2. a preliminary outline of a book, speech, etc
  3. another word for bill of exchange
  4. a demand or drain on something
  5. the divergent duct leading from a water turbine to its tailrace
  6. US selection for compulsory military service
  7. detachment of military personnel from one unit to another
  8. commerce an allowance on merchandise sold by weight
  9. a line or narrow border that is chiselled on the surface of a stone to serve as a guide for levelling it
  10. Australian and NZ a group of livestock separated from the rest of the herd or flock
verb (tr)
  1. to draw up an outline or sketch for somethingto draft a speech
  2. to prepare a plan or design of
  3. to detach (military personnel) from one unit to another
  4. mainly US to select for compulsory military service
  5. to chisel a draft on (stone, etc)
  6. Australian and NZ
    1. to select (cattle or sheep) from a herd or flock
    2. to select (farm stock) for sale
Derived Formsdrafter, noun

Word Origin for draft

C16: variant of draught


US draft

  1. a current of air, esp one intruding into an enclosed space
    1. the act of pulling a load, as by a vehicle or animal
    2. (as modifier)a draught horse
  2. the load or quantity drawn
  3. a portion of liquid to be drunk, esp a dose of medicine
  4. the act or an instance of drinking; a gulp or swallow
  5. the act or process of drawing air, smoke, etc, into the lungs
  6. the amount of air, smoke, etc, inhaled in one breath
    1. beer, wine, etc, stored in bulk, esp in a cask, as opposed to being bottled
    2. (as modifier)draught beer
    3. on draughtdrawn from a cask or keg
  7. Also called: draughtsman any one of the 12 flat thick discs used by each player in the game of draughtsUS and Canadian equivalent: checker
  8. the depth of a loaded vessel in the water, taken from the level of the waterline to the lowest point of the hull
  9. feel the draught to be short of money
See also draughts
Derived Formsdraughter or US drafter, noun

Word Origin for draught

C14: probably from Old Norse drahtr, of Germanic origin; related to draw
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for draughts

British name for the tabletop game that in U.S. is checkers, c.1400, from draught, perhaps because the pieces are "dragged" over the board in moves. Earlier it is recorded as jeu de dames (late 14c.).



mid-13c., "game of chess (or checkers);" c.1300, "a chessboard, board with 64 squares for playing chess or similar games; a set of chessmen" a shortening of Old French eschequier "chessboard; a game of chess," from Medieval Latin scaccarium (see check (n.)).

Meaning "pattern of squares" is late 14c. Meaning "a man or marker in the game of checkers" is from 1864. British prefers chequer. From late 14c. as "a checked design." The word had earlier senses of "table covered with checked cloth for counting" (late 12c. in Anglo-Latin), a sense also in Old French (see checker (n.2)).



c.1500, spelling variant of draught (q.v.) to reflect change in pronunciation. Among the senses that have gone with this form of the word in American English, the meaning "rough copy of a writing" (something "drawn") is attested from 14c.; that of "preliminary sketch from which a final copy is made" is from 1520s; that of "flow of a current of air" is from c.1770. Of beer from the 1830s, in reference to the method of "drawing" it from the cask. Sense in bank draft is from 1745. The meaning "a drawing off a group for special duty" is from 1703, in U.S. especially of military service; the verb in this sense first recorded 1714. Related: Drafted; drafting.



c.1200, from Old English *dreaht, *dræht, related to dragan "to draw, drag" (see drag). Oldest sense besides that of "pulling" is of "drinking." It retains the functions that did not branch off with draft (q.v.).



"to ornament with a checked or chackered design," late 14c. (implied in checkered), from Old French eschequeré and from checker (n.1). Related: Checkering.



"table covered with a checked cloth," specialized sense of checker (n.1), late 14c. (in Anglo-Latin from c.1300); especially a table for counting money or keeping accounts (revenue reckoned with counters); later extended to "the fiscal department of the English Crown; the Exchequer (mid-14c.; in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

draughts in Medicine


  1. A measured portion of a liquid or aerosol medication; a dose.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

draughts in Culture


A preliminary version of a book, speech, essay, or outline.


A system for selecting young men for compulsory military service, administered in the United States by the Selective Service System. At present the United States relies on a volunteer military and does not have a draft, though young men are required by law to register with the Selective Service. (See also conscientious objector and draft dodger.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.