\ ˈgrift How to pronounce grift (audio) \
grifted; grifting; grifts

Definition of grift

transitive verb

: to obtain (money or property) illicitly (as in a confidence game)

intransitive verb

: to acquire money or property illicitly

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Other Words from grift

grift noun
grifter noun

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."

Examples of grift in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the time since the coronavirus arrived on these shores, each major player in our healthcare system—insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms, and hospitals—has demonstrated its willingness, its compulsion, to grift off the global pandemic. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Big Pharma’s Got a Brand New Coronavirus Grift," 30 June 2020 The coronavirus era has plainly shown how unprepared nursing homes were to deal with such a huge crisis, but equally how many of them are eager to grift and skim, even in the direst times. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "The Intolerable Cruelty of Our Eldercare System," 26 May 2020 From fancy little pens to fancy little snacks, report after report has emerged of Pruitt using his position and his influence to grift the hell out of taxpayers. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "Scott Pruitt Reportedly Tried to Get Aides to Find His Wife a $200,000 Job," 3 July 2018 If nothing else, McFarland’s utter commitment to grifting at just 26 years old is impressive. Jasmine Sanders, The Cut, "Fyre Festival Organizer Allegedly Sold Fake Met Gala Tickets While Out on Bail," 13 June 2018 But after using hundreds of fake online identities to grift the online retail giant, the husband and wife team face up to 20 years behind bars for fraud and money laundering. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "$1.2 million in electronics," 2 Oct. 2017 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. Joseph Hernandez,, "Heinz trying to woo Chicagoans to do the unthinkable: Put ketchup on their hot dogs," 18 July 2017 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. James Hebert,, "'Guys and Dolls' a polished retro spectacle at Old Globe," 8 July 2017

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.

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First Known Use of grift

1902, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for grift

grift, noun, perhaps alteration of graft

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Time Traveler for grift

Time Traveler

The first known use of grift was in 1902

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Cite this Entry

“Grift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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