grift

verb \ ˈgrift \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of grift

transitive verb
: to obtain (money) illicitly (as in a confidence game)
intransitive verb
: to acquire money or property illicitly

grift

noun

grifter

noun

grift was our Word of the Day on 03/22/2013. Hear the podcast!

Recent Examples of grift from the Web

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


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