From Middle English craft, from Old English cræft (“physical strength, force, might, courage, art, science, skill, ability, trick, fraud, trade, calling, work or product of art, hex, tool, machine”), from Proto-Germanic *kraftaz (“power”), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- (“to turn, wind”). Cognate with Saterland Frisian kraft (“strength”), West Frisian krêft (“strength”), Dutch kracht (“strength, force, power”), German Kraft (“strength, force, power”), Norwegian kraft (“power, force”), Swedish kraft (“power, force, drive, energy”), Icelandic kraftur (“power”).
craft (countable and uncountable, plural craft or crafts)
- (uncountable, obsolete) Strength; power; might; force [9th century].
- (uncountable) Intellectual power; skill; art.
- Ability, skilfulness, especially skill in making plans and carrying them into execution; dexterity in managing affairs, adroitness, practical cunning; ingenuity in constructing, dexterity [9th century].
c. 1381, Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules:
- The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne […]
1846, George Grote, A history of Greece:
- The Cyclôpes were Brontês, Steropês, and Argês,—formidable persons, equally distinguished for strength and for manual craft […]
2016 June 11, Phil McNulty, “England 1-1 Russia”, in BBC Sport:
- England should have had enough against a very ordinary Russia to complete the job but Rooney's removal robbed them of his craft and guidance and now increases the pressure on Thursday's meeting with Wales in Lens.
- Cunning, art, skill, or dexterity applied to bad purposes; artifice; guile; subtlety; shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception [13th century].
- 1611, Bible (King James), Mark xiv.1:
- The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
1651, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the Matter, form, and power of a Commonwealth ecclesiastical and civil:
- […] you have that Crooked Wisdome, which is called Craft […]
1904, Jack London, The Sea-Wolf:
- We have not the strength with which to fight this man; we must dissimulate, and win, if win we can, by craft.
- Synonyms: craftiness, cunning, foxiness, guile, slyness, wiliness
- (obsolete) Occult art, magic [13th century].
- (countable, obsolete in the general sense) A work or product of art [c. 1000].
- (collective or plural) Handmade items, especially domestic or decorative objects; handicrafts [20th century].
1911 January 1, Timberman:
- [Canton] has a large export trade in hand-made crafts, ivory and furniture.
- (countable, obsolete) A device, a means; a magical device, spell or enchantment [13th century].
c. 1440, Generydes. A royal historie of the excellent knight Generides:
- For your entente I shall a craft devise […] That ye shall haue your purpose euery dele.
- (countable, obsolete) Learning of the schools, scholarship; a branch of learning or knowledge, a science, especially one of the ‘seven liberal arts’ of the medieval universities [13th century].
a. 1325, Cursor Mundi, page 272:
- […] Þe seuen craftes all he can […]
- (uncountable) Skill, skilfulness, art, especially the skill needed for a particular profession [9th century].
1640, Ben Jonson, Timber: or Discoveries made upon Men and Matter, page 213:
- A poem […] is the work of the poet; the end and fruit of his labour and study. Poesy is his skill or craft of making; the very fiction itself, the reason or form of the work.
1678, Joseph Moxon, Mechanick exercises, or The doctrine of handy-works:
- It is counted […] good workmanship in a Joyner, to have the craft of bearing his hand so curiously even, the whole length of a long Board.
The craft of writing plays.
- Synonyms: craftsmanship, workmanship
- (countable, plural crafts) A branch of skilled work or trade, especially one requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill, but sometimes applied equally to any business, calling or profession; the skilled practice of a practical occupation [since the 9th century].
1847, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, page 281:
- […] For since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations, / Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
1871, Edward Augustus Freeman, The history of the Norman conquest, page 250:
- Fond as William was of the craft of the woods, he was the least likely of all men to let his sport stand in the way of his interest.
The carpenter's craft.
He learned his craft as an apprentice.
- Synonyms: art, trade, handicraft, business, profession
- (countable) A trade or profession as embodied in its practitioners collectively; the members of a trade or handicraft as a body; an association of these; a trade's union, guild, or ‘company’ [15th century].
c. 1386, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales. The Cokes Tale, page 50:
- A prentis whilom dwelt in our citee, / And of a craft of vitaillers was he […]
She represented the craft of brewers.
- (countable, plural craft) A vehicle designed for navigation in or on water or air or through outer space [since the 17th century].
- (nautical) Boats, especially of smaller size than ships. Historically primarily applied to vessels engaged in loading or unloading of other vessels, as lighters, hoys, and barges.
- (nautical, British Royal Navy) Those vessels attendant on a fleet, such as cutters, schooners, and gun-boats, generally commanded by lieutenants.
- (figuratively) A woman.
- “A tight little craft,” was Austin’s invariable comment on the matron; and she looked it, always trim and trig and smooth of surface like a converted yacht cleared for action.
- (countable, fishing) Implements used in catching fish, such as net, line, or hook. Modern use primarily in whaling, as in harpoons, hand-lances, etc. [17th century].
a. 1784, T. Green, “An Act for encouraging and regulating Fiſheries”, in Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America, page 79:
- And whereas the continual Interruption of the Courſe and Paſſage of the Fiſh up the Rivers, by the daily drawing of Seins and other Fiſh-Craft, tends to prevent their Increaſe, […]
1869 April 27, C. M. Scammon, “On the Cetaceans of the Western Coast of North America”, in Edward D. Cope, editor, Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, volume 21, page 46:
- The whaling craft consists of harpoons, lances, lines, and sealskin buoys, all of their own workmanship.
a. 1923, Charles Boardman Hawes, “A Boy Who Went Whaling”, in The Highest Hit: and Other Selections by Newbery Authors, Gareth Stevens Publishing, published 2001, →ISBN, page 47:
- From the mate’s boat they removed, at his direction, all whaling gear and craft except the oars and a single lance.
1950, Discovery Reports, volume 26, Cambridge University Press, page 318:
- […] Temple, a negro of New Bedford, who made ‘whalecraft’, that is, was a blacksmith engaged in working from iron the special utensils or ‘craft’ of the whaling trade.
1991, Joan Druett, Petticoat Whalers: Whaling Wives at Sea, 1820–1920, University Press of New England, published 2001, →ISBN, page 55:
- The men raced about decks collecting the whaling craft and gear and putting them into the boats, while all the time the lookouts hollered from above.
The unchanged plural is used if the word means vehicle(s). Otherwise the regular plural is used.
Terms derived from craft (noun)
skill in making plans and carrying them into execution
skilled practice of practical occupation
members of a trade collectively
nautical: fishing or whaling implements
nautical: boats, especially of smaller size than ships
nautical: vessels attendant on a fleet
particular kind of skilled work
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked
craft (third-person singular simple present crafts, present participle crafting, simple past and past participle crafted)
- To make by hand and with much skill.
- To construct, develop something (like a skilled craftsman): "state crafting", "crafting global policing".
- (video games) to combine multiple items to form a new item
to construct, develop like craftsman
- ^ Kroonen, Guus (2013) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden Indo-European Etymological Dictionary Series; 11), Leiden, Boston: Brill, s. v. “*kraftu-”, gives only these two meanings for the Old English word.
- ^ Most of this list of meanings can be found at Gerhard Köbler (2014) Altenglisches Wörterbuch, fourth edition, online, s. v. “cræft”.
- Krueger, Dennis (December 1982). "Why On Earth Do They Call It Throwing?" Studio Potter Vol. 11, Number 1 (journal website).