\ ˈshaft \
plural shafts\ˈshaf(t)s, for sense 1b usuallyˈshavz \

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 \ : 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

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Examples of shaft in a Sentence


the shaft of a spear the shaft of a golf club


You really got shafted in that deal.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Meanwhile, rescuers will also explore other avenues, such as draining water from the cave and exploring the mountainside for shafts and other entrances to the caverns below. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Thailand youth soccer coach may face charges for getting team trapped in cave," 4 July 2018 The series of spikes that run down the weapon's shaft, meanwhile, serve as a defensive element rather than an offensive one, preventing a captive from grabbing the pole and trying to wrench it out of the wielder's hands. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "What Was That Gnarly Samurai Weapon on Westworld Last Night?," 21 May 2018 Resolution already has dug one shaft 28 feet around and nearly 7,000 feet deep. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Copper could be the solution for displaced coal miners on the Navajo Reservation," 15 Mar. 2018 If your hair is thick and dry, consider this: Coat your hair from mid-shaft to ends before stepping into the shower. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018 Power is delivered to the rear wheel via a shaft drive. Charles Fleming,, "2018 Honda Gold Wing is lighter, sportier, more powerful and better looking," 20 Apr. 2018 The nation hung on the unfolding drama: The painstaking effort to drill another shaft, parallel to hers. Jess Bidgood, New York Times, "What Did Baby Jessica Think of the Thai Cave Rescue? She Had No Idea It Happened," 11 July 2018 Teams have been combing the mountainside looking for fissure that might lead to such shafts. Author: Tassanee Vejpongsa, Anchorage Daily News, "Thai rescuers find missing boys and soccer coach alive in cave," 2 July 2018 Peer down an elevator shaft covered in mirrors, interact with a digital silhouette wall, and hear stories from some of the many celebrities who call L.A. home. Lisa Beebe, Los Angeles Magazine, "High Above the City Streets, OUE Skyspace Offers a Fresh Perspective on Los Angeles," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

How can the Bulldogs get to the second weekend, fans ask, if they are shafted in their seed line? David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: How they play, more than how they're seeded, matters to Bulldogs," 10 Mar. 2018 But unity remains elusive for the party whose ugly presidential primary in 2016 led to Hillary Clinton mortally damaged on Election Day after Bernie Sanders supporters left her high and dry, embittered that the party had shafted their man. Maria Panaritis,, "For Pa. Democrats, family feud threatens gerrymandering joy | Maria Panaritis," 14 Feb. 2018 But some of the same forces that contributed to Trump’s victory here feed the skepticism over the tax bill — a sense that working people are getting shafted, a jaded view of Washington, and deep skepticism toward Congress. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "GOP tax cuts generate little excitement in blue-collar county that swung hard for Trump," 18 Dec. 2017 The government was forced to redraft certain settlements with owners after shafting them by not accounting for valuable nearby water rights. James Warren, The Hive, "The Massive, Botched Land Grab Behind Trump’s Border Wall," 14 Dec. 2017 For one, Wonder Woman was completely shafted, as was the sublimely hilarious Girls Trip. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "14 Golden Globes 2018 Snubs We Just Can't Get Over," 11 Dec. 2017 New characters Billy and Max got shafted in comparison to Bob and Dr. Owens. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "The end of Stranger Things S2 slays whatever early-season nitpicks existed," 12 Nov. 2017 Almost all the pillars of President Trump's presidency — immigration, jobs, mistrust of allies, coloring Washington as a feckless, greedy swamp — can be traced back to one of his core beliefs: America is getting shafted by the rest of the world. Amber Phillips, Washington Post, "How Trump’s ‘America first’ doctrine drives everything he does — including getting elected," 19 Sep. 2017 Government watchdogs trying to gain access to visitors logs at Mar-a-Lago were shafted when those logs were finally released, the Associated Press's Jill Colvin reports. Dan Sweeney,, "Counting the costs of Hurricane Irma," 18 Sep. 2017

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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Learn More about shaft

Phrases Related to shaft

the shaft

Statistics for shaft

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shaft

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

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More Definitions for shaft



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 \

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 \
plural shafts\ˈshaf(t)s \

Medical Definition of shaft 

: a long slender cylindrical body or part: as

a : the cylindrical part of a long bone between the enlarged ends

b : hair shaft

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Comments on shaft

What made you want to look up shaft? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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