View synonyms for shaft


[ shaft, shahft ]


  1. a long pole forming the body of various weapons, as lances, halberds, or arrows.
  2. something directed or barbed as in sharp attack:

    shafts of sarcasm.

  3. a ray or beam:

    a shaft of sunlight.

  4. a long, comparatively straight handle serving as an important or balancing part of an implement or device, as of a hammer, ax, golf club, or other implement.
  5. Machinery. a rotating or oscillating round, straight bar for transmitting motion and torque, usually supported on bearings and carrying gears, wheels, or the like, as a propeller shaft on a ship, or a drive shaft of an engine.
  6. a flagpole.
  7. Architecture.
    1. that part of a column or pier between the base and capital.
    2. any distinct, slender, vertical masonry feature engaged in a wall or pier and usually supporting or feigning to support an arch or vault.
  8. a monument in the form of a column, obelisk, or the like.
  9. either of the parallel bars of wood between which the animal drawing a vehicle is hitched.
  10. any well-like passage or vertical enclosed space, as in a building:

    an elevator shaft.

  11. Mining. a vertical or sloping passageway leading to the surface.
  12. Botany. the trunk of a tree.
  13. Zoology. the main stem or midrib of a feather.
  14. Also called leaf. Textiles. the harness or warp with reference to the pattern of interlacing threads in weave constructions (usually used in combination):

    an eight-shaft satin.

  15. the part of a candelabrum that supports the branches.
  16. Slang: Vulgar. the penis.
  17. Slang: harsh, unfair, or treacherous treatment:

    I feel like he’s giving me the shaft.

verb (used with object)

  1. to push or propel with a pole:

    to shaft a boat through a tunnel.

  2. Slang. to treat in a harsh, unfair, or treacherous manner.


/ ʃɑːft /


  1. the long narrow pole that forms the body of a spear, arrow, etc
  2. something directed at a person in the manner of a missile

    shafts of sarcasm

  3. a ray, beam, or streak, esp of light
  4. a rod or pole forming the handle of a hammer, axe, golf club, etc
  5. a revolving rod that transmits motion or power: usually used of axial rotation Compare rod
  6. one of the two wooden poles by which an animal is harnessed to a vehicle
  7. anatomy
    1. the middle part (diaphysis) of a long bone
    2. the main portion of any elongated structure or part
  8. the middle part of a column or pier, between the base and the capital
  9. a column, obelisk, etc, esp one that forms a monument
  10. architect a column that supports a vaulting rib, sometimes one of a set
  11. a vertical passageway through a building, as for a lift
  12. a vertical passageway into a mine
  13. ornithol the central rib of a feather
  14. an archaic or literary word for arrow
  15. get the shaft slang.
    to be tricked or cheated


  1. slang.
    to have sexual intercourse with (a woman)
  2. slang.
    to trick or cheat

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Other Words From

  • shaftless adjective
  • shaftlike adjective
  • subshaft noun
  • un·shafted adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of shaft1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English sceaft; cognate with German Schaft; compare Latin scāpus “shaft,” Greek skêptron scepter

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Word History and Origins

Origin of shaft1

Old English sceaft; related to Old Norse skapt, German Schaft, Latin scāpus shaft, Greek skeptron sceptre , Lettish skeps javelin

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Example Sentences

Its most popular post was a story about a colony of humans living in elevator shafts.

They come in green or pink, and have a waterproof rubber exterior with a stretchy, nylon shaft.

Select a dead, dry hardwood stave for your bow, and pick some shoots or sucker growth for the arrow shafts.

The shafts surround the site of a Neolithic village called Durrington Walls.

Notches and wear at the bottom of the bone points indicate that they were attached to thin shafts.

Wandering around Tribeca, you may stumble upon a decrepit elevator shaft that's full of curiosities.

A man had killed himself by jumping out the window at the top, while a woman had done so by jumping down the elevator shaft.

In one tragic incident in 1965, a man named Bob Restall passed out in the shaft and fell into the water.

Any celebration of these findings was quickly quashed as the shaft continued to flood and delay the work.

For decades, explorers struggled to cap an endless flood of water that prevented access to the shaft.

His arm was drawn around the drum, and finally his whole body was drawn over the shaft, at a fearful rate.

"I did n't fly off the handle," said the screw, twirling huskily at the end of the screw-shaft.

It was placed immediately over the shaft and pump-rods, requiring no engine-beam.

The case was fixed over the engine-shaft on two beams of timber from wall to wall.

The pole-case was fixed to strong beams immediately over the pump-shaft.


Related Words




Shafiʿishaft alley