The close resemblance in the spellings of the words ‘drought’ and ‘draught’ – a difference of just one letter, ‘a’ versus ‘o’) – can be very deceptive. Actually, ‘drought’ and ‘draught’ are as different as cheese and chalk, not only in what they describe but also in the way they are pronounced. Other than the resemblance in their spellings, there is absolutely no common ground shared between ‘drought’ and ‘draught’. In what follows, we discuss the difference between ‘drought’ and ‘draught’.
To begin with, ‘drought’ is pronounced as ‘drout’ (rhyming with ‘out, shout’, etc.), with ‘gh’ remaining silent. ‘Draught’, on the other hand, is pronounced as ‘draft’ (rhyming with ‘craft’), with ‘gh’ assuming the sound of ‘f’ as in ‘fish’. In fact, ‘draught’ is just a variant spelling of ‘draft’. It may be emphasized that the ‘aught’ in ‘draught’ is not pronounced the way it is in ‘caught, taught’, etc.
Coming to the meaning, ‘drought’ refers to ‘a climatic condition characterized by a prolonged and sustained spell of abnormally low (compared to the normal annual average at that place) or no rainfall’, a condition of aridity that can adversely affect the yield of agricultural crops as well as cause water shortage on a large scale. Though strictly speaking ‘drought’ means ‘acute shortage of rainfall’, in a figurative sense ‘drought’ may be used to indicate ‘a severe scarcity or deficiency’ in general, as an antonym of ‘abundance’.
‘Draught’ has multiple meanings. As a noun, it can indicate ‘a current of air or breeze, especially that forcibly entering into a closed space’; ‘the act of pulling, traction’, as by a vehicle or an animal; ‘a dose of liquid medicine, a gulp, a mouthful’; ‘a serving of an alcoholic drink drawn from a keg or barrel’; ‘amount of air, smoke, etc., drawn into the lungs in one breath’; ‘a blueprint, drawing, sketch, plan, or outline’. When you ‘feel a draught’, you are short of money. In the plural form ‘draughts’, but used as a singular noun, it is the name of a board game of checkers.
Another difference between ‘drought’ and ‘draught’ is that ‘drought’ is always a noun, whereas ‘draught’ can be used as an adjective and as a verb as well. Examples of ‘draught’ as an adjective are as in ‘draught horse or draught animal’, to mean a horse or an animal that pulls a vehicle like a cart, and in ‘draught beer’ to mean beer served from a cask or barrel as opposed to that from a bottle. As a verb, ‘draught’ has a single meaning – ‘to sketch or draw, to make a draught’. However, it may be pointed out that this usage is very rare; instead, the variant spelling ‘draft’ is used commonly for the verb form.
Here are some examples elucidating the difference between ‘drought’ and ‘draught’:
- A severe drought can lead to crop failure and scarcity of food.
- I haven’t come across a good book for a long time; it seems as though there is a drought of good writers.
- Throughout the bus journey I could feel ice-cold draught hitting my face; perhaps there were small gaps in the window seals.
- Horse and bull are draught animals.
- There is nothing like having a glass of chilled draught beer in this warm weather.
- Can you give me a rough draught of the manuscript we discussed yesterday?
- I want you to draught (or draft, preferably) a forceful letter for our new client.
- My grandfather loves to play draughts.
That’s all about the difference between ‘drought’ and ‘draught’.