raft

1 [raft, rahft]
noun
1.
a more or less rigid floating platform made of buoyant material or materials: an inflatable rubber raft.
2.
a collection of logs, planks, casks, etc., fastened together for floating on water.
4.
a slab of reinforced concrete providing a footing on yielding soil, usually for a whole building, so that the weight of the soil that would be displaced by the settlement of the building exceeds the weight of the building itself; mat.
verb (used with object)
5.
to transport on a raft.
6.
to form (logs or the like) into a raft.
7.
to travel or cross by raft.
8.
(of an ice floe) to transport (embedded organic or rock debris) from the shore out to sea.
verb (used without object)
9.
to use a raft; go or travel on a raft.
10.
(of an ice floe) to overlap another ice floe.

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English rafte, perhaps < Old Norse raptr rafter1

Dictionary.com Unabridged

raft

2 [raft, rahft]
noun Informal.
a great quantity; a lot: a raft of trouble.

Origin:
1825–35; variant of raff large number (Middle English: abundance)

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
raft1 (rɑːft)
 
n
1.  a buoyant platform of logs, planks, etc, used as a vessel or moored platform
2.  a thick slab of reinforced concrete laid over soft ground to provide a foundation for a building
 
vb
3.  to convey on or travel by raft, or make a raft from
 
[C15: from Old Norse raptrrafter]
 
'rafting1
 
n

raft2 (rɑːft)
 
n
informal a large collection or amount: a raft of old notebooks discovered in a cupboard
 
[C19: from raff]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

raft
"floating platform," 1497, originally "rafter" (c.1420), from O.N. raptr "log" (O.N. -pt- pronounced as -ft-), related to M.L.G. rafter, rachter "rafter."

raft
"large collection," 1830, variant of raff "heap, large amount," from M.E. raf (see raffish, riffraff); form and sense associated with raft (1).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

raft

simplest type of watercraft, made up of logs or planks fastened together to form a floating platform. The earliest were sometimes made of bundles of reeds. Most rafts have been designed simply to float with the current, but they can be equipped with oars or sails or both and can be navigated in the ocean over long distances, as was dramatically demonstrated by Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl in 1947; to test his theory that the Pacific islands might have been settled by people from South America, he sailed a large balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki, from Peru to islands near Tahiti in a voyage of three and a half months. The double-hulled catamarans of India are also seaworthy rafts.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He then boarded the last slide raft, and before long climbed onto a rescue boat.
Try a no-skills-required raft race or a kayak clinic.
The conference also dealt with challenges facing the raft of new indigenous
  universities across the region.
The area is quiet and remote and offers canoe and raft rentals for visitors.
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