Draft Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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There are some words in the English language that have several meanings. When you encounter words like this, it can be difficult to understand which definition is used in a given context. 

The word draft is one of those words. With so many definitions for this simple word, we must understand each so that we can use the word correctly and understand it in writing or conversation. 

So, today’s word of the day to add to your vocabulary word list is draft. By the end of this short guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of the word draft, its definitions, its etymology, and how to use it. Let’s get started. 

What Is the Meaning of the Word Draft?

The word draft is fairly simple at first glance, but many definitions exist. Context is incredibly important for determining which definition is being used. 

Here are the different definitions of the word draft (drɑːft): 

  • An early version of a piece of writing, art, or creation, which often is incomplete or unfinished
  • A system of compulsory military service by law
  • A system in American sports where professional sports teams pick young players at the start of each season
  • A payment of money by a bank, most often to another bank
  • A breeze or current of air or wind that is blowing through the room, usually cold air
  • The depth of water that is required for a boat to be able to float
  • A system of serving drinks out of barrels, kegs, or casks into a glass, as opposed to individual bottles or cans, usually referring to beer
  • Something that is used for the act of pulling heavy loads, typically referring to animals

Many English words with multiple definitions have one or two definitions that are used much more than the others. However, with the word draft, these definitions are commonly used. 

Luckily, most of these definitions are specific to a certain activity, place, or action, so the context the word is used in will likely be able to help you understand which definition is being used. 

Where Did the Word Draft Come From?

To help clarify the definition of the draft, let’s look at the history of how it came to be or its etymology. The history of the word draft is quite interesting. 

The history of the word draft begins with the word draw. Draw has been around in the English language for quite some time. It is believed that in the 14th century, the word draw became the root for the Middle English word draught, pronounced dræft, meaning “a rough copy of a piece of writing.” This word is pronounced the same way we pronounce the word draft.

Essentially, the word draught was the product of a person “drawing up” something. Over the next few centuries, the word draught, in association with the word draw, would be used to mean several different things related to the word draw. 

Before its changes in definition, the word changed its spelling from draught to draft in the 1500s to reflect its true pronunciation. Today, the spelling with “gh” is still used in British English, but American English only uses the “f” spelling. 

Regarding definition changes, the first addition was the first definition mentioned above. It wasn’t until the 1700s that the word meant “a current of air,” or the drawing in of air. You could “draw” beer from a keg in the early 1800s, making for the word draft. You could draw money from the bank for a draft by the mid-1700s, and the act of drawing off a group for special service came about in the early 1700s. 

All of these definitions seem to come from the word draw and all of its various definitions.

What Are Some Examples of the Word Draft in a Sentence?

Seeing a word in context can help clarify its definition and how you can use it in your own life. Here are some example sentences that use the word draft.

No, I don’t want a domestic beer today. Get me a nice local draft beer. 

This place downtown has over 60 beers on draft, and you pay by the ounce!

The first round is on me if they have that rare stout on draft.

Hey, can you look at the first draft of my paper and tell me what to change?

The final draft of my art project is due tomorrow, and I have barely completed my rough draft!

This first version is just a preliminary draft. I can do so much better than that.

I’m a drafter for an engineering company, so I create the earlier drafts for a project that get edited by my superiors. 

I put in a written order for a bank draft today, so you should have the money immediately. I have the bill of exchange right here.

The most common animal for hire is this draft horse here, but I have other draft animals you can choose from that are also great at drawing loads. 

Military draft, selective service, conscription, I don’t care what you call it. I don’t want to join the armed forces!

What Are the Synonyms of the Word Draft?

Here are some synonyms of the word draft that you might find in a thesaurus.

  • Preliminary sketch
  • Version
  • Blueprint
  • Outline
  • Bill
  • IOU
  • Bond
  • Breeze
  • Current
  • Selection
  • Conscription

The Word Draft

Now you know everything you need to know about the word draft, its definition, its history, and how to use it. Use it confidently in your writing and your conversation. And if you need a refresher on this word, just return to this article for the information you need. 


DRAFT | Cambridge English Dictionary 

DRAFT English Definition and Meaning | Lexico

Frequently Asked Questions | Selective Service System