Definition of grift
: to obtain (money) illicitly (as in a confidence game)
: to acquire money or property illicitly
grift was our Word of the Day on 03/22/2013. Hear the podcast!
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Recent Examples of grift from the Web
Not to alarm you, fellow Chicagoans, but someone is trying to grift our fair city: Heinz, that ubiquitous purveyor of ketchup, is trying to sneak the red stuff on your hot dogs.
And that’s just in the opening scene — a splashy tableau of gleeful street grifting that’s staged with plenty of midcentury-Manhattan grit and wit in the Old Globe’s crackling new revival of the musical favorite.
In The Daily Beast, Erin Gloria Ryan likened the Trumps to the Bluths, the grifting real-estate-development family whose patriarch, George Sr.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Grift was born in the argot of the underworld, a realm in which a "grifter" might be a pickpocket, a crooked gambler, or a confidence man-any criminal who relied on skill and wits rather than physical violence-and to be "on the grift" was to make a living by stings and clever thefts. "Grift" may have evolved from "graft," a slightly older word meaning "to acquire dishonestly," but its exact origins are uncertain. We do know that the verb "grift" first finagled its way into print in 1915 in George Bronson-Howard's God's Man: "Grifting ain't what it used to be. Fourteenth Street's got protection down to a system-a regular underworld tariff on larceny."
Origin and Etymology of grift
grift, noun, perhaps alteration of graft
First Known Use: 1915See Words from the same year
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