\ ˈshaft How to pronounce shaft (audio) \
plural shafts\ ˈshaf(t)s How to pronounce shaft (audio) , for sense 1b usually  ˈshavz \

Definition of shaft

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : the long handle of a spear or similar weapon
(2) : spear, lance
b or plural shaves\ ˈshavz How to pronounce shaft (audio) \ : pole specifically : either of two long pieces of wood between which a horse is hitched to a vehicle
c(1) : an arrow especially for a longbow
(2) : the body or stem of an arrow extending from the nock to the head
2 : a sharply delineated beam of light shining through an opening
3 : something suggestive of the shaft of a spear or arrow especially in long slender cylindrical form: such as
a : the trunk of a tree
b : the cylindrical pillar between the capital and the base
c : the handle of a tool or instrument (such as a golf club)
d : a commonly cylindrical bar used to support rotating pieces or to transmit power or motion by rotation
e : the stem or central axis of a feather
f : the upright member of a cross especially below the arms
g : the cylindrical part of a long bone between the enlarged ends
h : a small architectural column (as at each side of a doorway)
i : a column, obelisk, or other spire-shaped or columnar monument
j : a vertical or inclined opening of uniform and limited cross section made for finding or mining ore, raising water, or ventilating underground workings (as in a cave)
k : the part of a hair that is visible above the surface of the skin — see hair illustration
l : a vertical opening or passage through the floors of a building
4a : a projectile thrown like a spear or shot like an arrow
b : a scornful, satirical, or pithily critical remark or attack
c : harsh or unfair treatment usually used with the gave them the shaft


shafted; shafting; shafts

Definition of shaft (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to fit with a shaft
2 : to treat unfairly or harshly

Synonyms for shaft

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of shaft in a Sentence

Noun the shaft of a spear the shaft of a golf club Verb You really got shafted in that deal.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At the mouth of the shaft, workers loaded the ore onto donkeys or their own backs and bore it to the charcoal-burning furnaces, knee-high clay urns attached to bellows that sent up plumes of smoke from the center of the mining complex. Matti Friedman, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2021 And one portion of the shaft … was driven through her neck. CBS News, 6 Nov. 2021 After shampooing hair, follow with a super-hydrating conditioner to moisturize curls, which tend to be drier than straight hair since your hair's natural oils have to travel around coils to get to the end of the hair shaft. Pia Velasco, Good Housekeeping, 20 Aug. 2021 If there was ever a season to reward a team from the Group of Five schools that generally get the shaft on selection day, this appears to be it. Paul Newberry, ajc, 12 Nov. 2021 Brushless motors achieve their efficiency by eliminating the energy-robbing carbon brushes that transfer current from the stationary part of the motor to the spinning output shaft. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 11 Nov. 2021 And she was struck so violently that the shaft of the golf club shattered. CBS News, 6 Nov. 2021 On the morning of the winter solstice, according to Owl and other witnesses, sunlight shoots through the shaft in the rock, projecting a laserlike beam onto a nearby boulder. Saki Knafo, Curbed, 20 Oct. 2021 Among concepts being tested in the high-rise: twin elevators, which use the same elevator shaft but operate independently, with one car above the other, Lavelle said. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 19 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It is powered by a 1,351cc twin-cylinder engine and has a three-speed gearbox and shaft final drive. Josh Max, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 An update from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union also said Kellogg’s was trying to shaft new workers by locking them into subpar benefits and taking away vacation days. al, 6 Oct. 2021 Fittings attempt to match things like clubhead weight and shaft flexibility to an individual golfer’s swing. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Nov. 2020 Lind’s heart genuinely hurts for those shafted by oligarchy. New York Times, 17 Jan. 2020 The Coyotes always seem to get shafted by the schedule, and their gauntlet of games to open the 2019-20 season doesn't appear any different. Richard Morin, azcentral, 5 Oct. 2019 The unfounded hostility to that film basically killed its release and then shafted the chances of the movie and of Ryan Gosling’s contemplative performance in the awards races. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Oct. 2019 Do your research, ask questions and go over every detail personally to avoid being shafted or misinformed. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 18 Sep. 2019 Only a socialist could do that to his brother, only a socialist could regard familial ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother. Julia Webster, Time, 5 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shaft.' 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 shaft


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shaft


Middle English, from Old English sceaft; akin to Old High German scaft shaft, Latin scapus shaft, stalk, Greek skēptesthai to prop oneself, lean

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Time Traveler for shaft

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The first known use of shaft was before the 12th century

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Statistics for shaft

Last Updated

27 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shaft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of shaft

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the long, narrow part of a weapon, tool, instrument, etc.
: a bar in a machine which holds or turns other parts that move or spin
: one of two poles between which a horse is tied to pull a vehicle (such as a carriage)



English Language Learners Definition of shaft (Entry 2 of 2)

: to treat (someone) unfairly or harshly


\ ˈshaft How to pronounce shaft (audio) \

Kids Definition of shaft

1 : the long handle of a weapon, tool, or instrument the shaft of a spear the shaft of a golf club
2 : one of two poles between which a horse is hitched to pull a wagon or carriage
3 : an arrow or its narrow stem
4 : a narrow beam of light
5 : a long narrow part or structure especially when round the shaft of a feather
6 : a mine opening made for finding or mining ore
7 : an opening or passage straight down through the floors of a building an air shaft an elevator shaft
8 : a bar to support rotating pieces of machinery or to give them motion


\ ˈshaft How to pronounce shaft (audio) \
plural shafts\ ˈshaf(t)s How to pronounce shaft (audio) \

Medical Definition of shaft

: a long slender cylindrical body or part: as
a : the cylindrical part of a long bone between the enlarged ends

More from Merriam-Webster on shaft

Nglish: Translation of shaft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shaft for Arabic Speakers


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