Word of the Day : February 27, 2019


verb GRIFT

What It Means

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

2 : to acquire money or property illicitly


The guidebook warns that the city's con artists grift millions of dollars from unwary tourists annually.

"He's somebody that lived and grifted, lived for the day. As soon as he got any money from some shady deal or whatever he was involved in, he just spent it." — Richard E. Grant, quoted on Vox.com, 18 Oct. 2018

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 the early 20th century, as demonstrated in George Bronson-Howard's 1915 novel God's Man, where it appears in gerund form: "Grifting ain't what it used to be. Fourteenth Street's got protection down to a system—a regular underworld tariff on larceny."

Test Your Vocabulary

Fill in the blanks to complete a word for the use of tricks especially to hide, avoid, or get something: s _ _ te _ f _ _e.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!