What does Shaft mean?

Taking advantage of someone

In simple terms, ‘Shaft’ is a slang used when someone feels they have been exploited, cheated, ripped off, or taken advantage of. If you believe you’ve been unfairly treated, you could say you’ve been ‘shafted’. For instance, if you feel you’ve been deceived when making a car purchase, you could express it by saying “I got the shaft from the car dealer.”

The exact origin of the term ‘shaft’ is uncertain but there are a couple of theories. Some think it dates back to the Middle Ages, when people were buried vertically in a shaft – a practice seen as quite disrespectful. Another theory suggests it’s related to the experience of being poked with the shaft, or handle, of a club.

You’ll come across the use of ‘shaft’ in various contexts, both online and offline. On social media, a friend might vent about being ‘shafted’ on a real estate deal. You might hear your uncle grumble about getting the shaft from a tool company. Or a buddy could whine about his mom giving him the shaft because she made him do housework before hanging out. The term ‘shaft’ can also refer to the fictional character, John Shaft, a detective in the NYPD.

Example for using ‘Shaft’ in a conversation

Hey, remember that concert ticket I bought online?

Yeah, what happened?

I totally got shafted! The ticket turned out to be fake.

Oh no, that’s awful! Did you get your money back?