English edit

English Wikipedia has an article on:
Spear shafts
Drive shaft
Shaft of peacock tail feather
Lacrosse stick (the shaft runs from 4 to 5)
Elevator shaft

Etymology edit

From Middle English schaft, from Old English sċeaft, from Proto-West Germanic *skaft, from Proto-Germanic *skaftaz. Cognate with Dutch schacht, German German Schaft, Swedish skaft.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

shaft (plural shafts)

  1. (obsolete) The entire body of a long weapon, such as an arrow.
    • c. 1343-1400, Geoffrey Chaucer:
      His sleep, his meat, his drink, is him bereft, / That lean he wax, and dry as is a shaft.
    • c. 1515-1568, Roger Ascham:
      A shaft hath three principal parts, the stele, the feathers, and the head.
  2. The long, narrow, central body of a spear, arrow, or javelin.
    Her hand slipped off the javelin's shaft towards the spearpoint and that's why her score was lowered.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter II, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., [], →OCLC:
      Orion hit a rabbit once; but though sore wounded it got to the bury, and, struggling in, the arrow caught the side of the hole and was drawn out. []. Ikey the blacksmith had forged us a spearhead after a sketch from a picture of a Greek warrior; and a rake-handle served as a shaft.
  3. (by extension) Anything cast or thrown as a spear or javelin.
    • c. 1608-1674, John Milton:
      And the thunder, / Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage, / Perhaps hath spent his shafts.
    • c. 1752-1821, Vicesimus Knox:
      Some kinds of literary pursuits [] have been attacked with all the shafts of ridicule.
  4. Any long thin object, such as the handle of a tool, one of the poles between which an animal is harnessed to a vehicle, the driveshaft of a motorized vehicle with rear-wheel drive, an axle, etc.
    • 1967, Barbara Sleigh, Jessamy, Sevenoaks, Kent: Bloomsbury, published 1993, →ISBN, page 57:
      While Kitto chatted to William, Jessamy looked with interest at the dog cart. It had a pair of high wooden wheels with two seats back to back above. Between the shafts the bay mare tossed her head and fidgeted on the cobbles.
    • 2013 July-August, Lee S. Langston, “The Adaptable Gas Turbine”, in American Scientist:
      Turbines have been around for a long time—windmills and water wheels are early examples. The name comes from the Latin turbo, meaning vortex, and thus the defining property of a turbine is that a fluid or gas turns the blades of a rotor, which is attached to a shaft that can perform useful work.
  5. A beam or ray of light.
    Isn't that shaft of light from that opening in the cave beautiful?
    • 1912, Willa Cather, The Bohemian Girl::
      They were a fine company of old women, and a Dutch painter would have loved to find them there together, where the sun made bright patches on the floor and sent long, quivering shafts of gold through the dusky shade up among the rafters.
  6. The main axis of a feather.
    I had no idea that they removed the feathers' shafts to make the pillows softer!
  7. (lacrosse) The long narrow body of a lacrosse stick.
    Sarah, if you wear gloves your hands might not slip on your shaft and you can up your game, girl!
  8. A vertical or inclined passage sunk into the earth as part of a mine
    Your grandfather used to work with a crane hauling ore out of the gold mine's shafts.
  9. A vertical passage housing a lift or elevator; a liftshaft.
    Darn it, my keys fell through the gap and into the elevator shaft.
  10. A ventilation or heating conduit; an air duct.
    Our parrot flew into the air duct and got stuck in the shaft.
  11. (architecture) Any column or pillar, particularly the body of a column between its capital and pedestal.
  12. The main cylindrical part of the penis.
    The female labia minora is homologous to the penis shaft skin of males.
  13. The chamber of a blast furnace.
  14. (meteorology) A relatively small area of precipitation that an onlook can discern from the dry surrounding area.

Usage notes edit

In Early Modern English, the shaft referred to the entire body of a long weapon, such that an arrow's "shaft" was composed of its "tip", "stale" or "steal", and "fletching". Palsgrave (circa 1530) glossed the French j[']empenne as "I fether a shafte, I put fethers upon a steale". Over time, the word came to be used in place of the former "stale" and lost its original meaning.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb edit

shaft (third-person singular simple present shafts, present participle shafting, simple past and past participle shafted)

  1. (transitive, slang) To fuck over; to cause harm to, especially through deceit or treachery.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:deceive
    Your boss really shafted you by stealing your idea like that.
    • 1992, “Crackers And Cheese”, performed by Eminem:
      Who can I trust after repeatedly being shafted
  2. (transitive) To equip with a shaft.
  3. (transitive, slang) To fuck; to have sexual intercourse with.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:copulate with
    Turns out my roommate was shafting my girlfriend.
    • 1994 [1993], Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting, London: Minerva, →ISBN, page 252:
      Which grotesque auld hing-oot will the shrivelled post-menopausal slag want tae shaft? Stay tuned.
    • 2018 Christian Cooke as Mickey Argyle, "Episode 2", Ordeal by Innocence (written by Sarah Phelps) 23 minutes
      Well at least I can get it up. No wonder Mary's going out of her head. Stuck with you sponging off her and not even a decent shafting for her trouble.

Translations edit

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Etymology 1 edit

From Old English sċeaft (shaft).

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of schaft (shaft)

Etymology 2 edit

From Old English sċeaft (creation).

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of schaft (creation)