What does shaft mean?


Shaft is another way to say "exploitation", "cheat," "rip off," or "took advantage of." For example, if you got ripped off when buying a car, you might say, "The salesman gave me the shaft," or "I got shafted."

Origin of shaft

It is unclear where shaft came from, although there are several claims. One belief is that it comes from the Middle ages when people were buried vertically in a shaft to save space, which was thought of as very disrespectful. Another thought is that it comes from being poked or prodded by the shaft (the handle) of a club.

You will see or hear people use shaft online, when messaging, and in person. For example, your cousin may complain on Facebook about getting shafted on his condo purchase, your dad may complain about getting shafted by tool manufacturers at the hardware store, or your friend may complain about getting the shaft from his mom because she made him do chores before coming over. People may also use shaft to refer to the fictional NYPD detective John Shaft.


I got shafted on that deal. I found out later that I paid way too much.
Yeah, you did. You paid twice as much!
Not helping.
Shaft tweet
Shaft tweet

Related Slang


Updated January 31, 2023

Shaft definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Shaft" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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