[ shaft, shahft ]
See synonyms for: shaftshaftedshafting on

  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.

  1. a ray or beam: a shaft of sunlight.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. a flagpole.

  5. Architecture.

    • that part of a column or pier between the base and capital.

    • any distinct, slender, vertical masonry feature engaged in a wall or pier and usually supporting or feigning to support an arch or vault.

  6. a monument in the form of a column, obelisk, or the like.

  7. either of the parallel bars of wood between which the animal drawing a vehicle is hitched.

  8. any well-like passage or vertical enclosed space, as in a building: an elevator shaft.

  9. Mining. a vertical or sloping passageway leading to the surface.

  10. Botany. the trunk of a tree.

  11. Zoology. the main stem or midrib of a feather.

  12. 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.

  13. the part of a candelabrum that supports the branches.

  14. Slang: Vulgar. the penis.

  15. 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.

Origin of shaft

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

Other words from shaft

  • shaftless, adjective
  • shaftlike, adjective
  • subshaft, noun
  • un·shaft·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use shaft in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shaft


/ (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

  1. a ray, beam, or streak, esp of light

  2. a rod or pole forming the handle of a hammer, axe, golf club, etc

  3. a revolving rod that transmits motion or power: usually used of axial rotation: Compare rod (def. 9)

  4. one of the two wooden poles by which an animal is harnessed to a vehicle

  5. anatomy

    • the middle part (diaphysis) of a long bone

    • the main portion of any elongated structure or part

  6. the middle part of a column or pier, between the base and the capital

  7. a column, obelisk, etc, esp one that forms a monument

  8. architect a column that supports a vaulting rib, sometimes one of a set

  9. a vertical passageway through a building, as for a lift

  10. a vertical passageway into a mine

  11. ornithol the central rib of a feather

  12. an archaic or literary word for arrow

  13. get the shaft US and Canadian slang to be tricked or cheated

  1. slang to have sexual intercourse with (a woman)

  2. slang to trick or cheat

Origin of shaft

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

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012