- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ɡɹɑːft/
- (US, Northern England) IPA(key): /ɡɹæft/
Audio (AU) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɑːft, -æft
From Middle English graffe, from Old French greffe (“stylus”), from Latin graphium (“stylus”), from Ancient Greek γραφείον (grapheíon), from γράφειν (gráphein, “to write”); probably akin to English carve. So named from the resemblance of a scion or shoot to a pointed pencil. Compare graphic, grammar.
- (countable) A small shoot or scion of a tree inserted in another tree, the stock of which is to support and nourish it. The two unite and become one tree, but the graft determines the kind of fruit.
- (countable) A branch or portion of a tree growing from such a shoot.
- (surgery, countable) A portion of living tissue used in the operation of autoplasty.
- (transitive) To insert (a graft) in a branch or stem of another tree; to propagate by insertion in another stock; also, to insert a graft upon.
- (intransitive) To insert scions (grafts) from one tree, or kind of tree, etc., into another; to practice grafting.
- (transitive, surgery) To implant a portion of (living flesh or akin) in a lesion so as to form an organic union.
- (transitive) To join (one thing) to another as if by grafting, so as to bring about a close union.
- 1717 Eloisa to Abelard. And graft my love immortal on thy fame! — Alexander Pope
- (transitive, nautical) To cover, as a ring bolt, block strap, splicing, etc., with a weaving of small cord or rope-yarns.
- (chemistry) To form a graft polymer
From Middle Dutch graft (“canal”), from graven (“dig”). The contemporary senses “depth of digging blade” and “narrow spade” may have a separate history, but this is uncertain. Compare Old Norse grǫft (“the action of digging”). Attested from the 17th century.
graft (plural grafts)
- (obsolete) A ditch, a canal.
- The depth of the blade of a digging tool such as a spade or shovel.
- 1798 , Memoirs of Science and the Arts, Transactions of the Society instituted at London for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, page 117:
- […] in the first operation, we dug through the peat, the hard sand, and gravel, and one spade's graft (about nine inches deep, and seven inches wide) into the quick sand, the whole length of this drain, […]
- A narrow spade used in digging drainage trenches.
Uncertain. Some lexicographers suggest an extended use of Etymology 2, above, expanding from “digging” to work more generally, and from there to dishonest work. Others, however, suggest an extension from Etymology 1, shifting from “a shoot or scion” to the notion of corruption through the idea of excrescence.
- (uncountable) Corruption in official life.
- (uncountable) Illicit profit by corrupt means, especially in public life.
- (uncountable, slang) A criminal’s special branch of practice.
- (countable) A con job.
- (countable, slang) A cut of the take (money).
- (uncountable, US, politics) A bribe, especially on an ongoing basis.
- 1910, O.R. Miller, The Reform Bulletin:
- If policemen take graft now from the liquor dealers for the privilege of keeping open on Sunday, what is to prevent them, if this bill is passed, from taking graft from the liquor men for the privilege of selling liquor before 1 p.m. on Sunday […] ?
- (Britain) (uncountable, colloquial) Work; labor
- (Britain) (countable, colloquial) A job or trade.
- (Britain) (uncountable, colloquial) Effort needed for doing hard work.
- grafter (“grifter”)
- ^ graft, n.2 in Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
- ^ graft, n.3 in Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
- ^ graft, n.4 in Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
- ^ “graft” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
- ^ graft, n.5 in Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
- (chiefly Holland) Obsolete form of .
- Obsolete form of .