Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: laden.

laden. Part A: As a Past Participle Equivalent to “loaded.” “Laden” survives today as a participial adjective {a laden barge} and not as a past participle. To use “laden” as a part of the verb phrase is to be guilty of archaism, although it is still used in shipping contexts {the ship was laden by union workers}. But sometimes, in literary contexts, “laden” is simply the right word {with rue my heart is laden} Although “ladened” is permissible in Scottish English — as “laden” is the Scottish equivalent of “lade,” v.t. & v.i. — it is a solecism elsewhere. E.g.: “She stares out from the magazine cover, line-free, mascara-ladened [read ‘laden’] and pouting, looking something like a teenage daughter who’s petulant after being asked to do the dishes.” Abigail Trafford, “Mythical Flauntin’ of Youth,” Wash. Post, 26 Nov. 1996, Health §, at Z6. Part B: For “ridden.” “Ridden” is the more general term, meaning “infested with,” “full of,” or “dominated, harassed, or obsessed by.” “Laden” has not shed its strong connotation of “loaded down.” Hence a place might be “laden” with things if they had been stacked there; or, more plausibly, a truck or barge might be “laden” with goods. But figuratively, “laden” fails as an effective adjective if the original suggestion of loading is ignored — e.g.: “This winter she’s going to teach herself how to use the GIS computerized mapping system so she can map out mosquito-laden [read ‘mosquito-ridden’] areas and make it easier on the workers.” Pam Starr, “The Bug Lady: No One Knows Insects Like Dreda McCreary,” Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), 15 Oct. 1997, at E1. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “The preservation of a language in a standard form depends on educated speakers keen to preserve it.” T.W.H. Holland, The Nature of English 13 (1967). ====================
Scroll to Top