Definition of


  1. (noun, animal) the hollow spine of a feather
  2. (noun, artifact) a revolving rod that transmits power or motion
  3. (noun, artifact) a long rod or pole (especially the handle of an implement or the body of a weapon like a spear or arrow)
  4. (noun, artifact) a long vertical passage sunk into the earth, as for a mine or tunnel
  5. (noun, artifact) (architecture) upright consisting of the vertical part of a column
  6. (noun, artifact) a vertical passageway through a building (as for an elevator)
  7. (noun, artifact) a long pointed rod used as a tool or weapon
  8. (noun, body) obscene terms for penis
  9. (noun, body) the main (mid) section of a long bone
  10. (noun, communication) an aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile and intended to have a telling effect
    she threw shafts of sarcasm
    she takes a dig at me every chance she gets
  11. (noun, communication) a line that forms the length of an arrow pointer
  12. (noun, phenomenon) a column of light (as from a beacon)
  13. (verb, competition) defeat someone through trickery or deceit
  14. (verb, possession) equip with a shaft

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Shaft

  1. O.E. sceaft "long, slender rod of a staff or spear," from P.Gmc. *skaftaz (cf. O.N. skapt, O.S. skaft, O.H.G. scaft, Ger. schaft, Du. schacht, not found in Gothic), which some connect with a Gmc. passive pp. of PIE base *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape" (cf. O.E. scafan "to shave") on notion of "tree branch stripped of i… more
  2. "long, narrow passage sunk into the earth," 1433, probably from shaft (1) on notion of "long and cylindrical," perhaps as a translation of cognate Low Ger. schacht in this sense (Grimm's suggestion, though OED is against it). Or it may represent a separate (unrecorded) development in O.E. directly from P.Gmc. *skaftaz in the original sense of "scrape, dig." The do… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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