Definition of grift in English:



[no object]North American
  • Engage in petty or small-scale swindling.

    ‘how long have you been grifting?’
    • ‘There's a lot of grifting online from people who are not really who they claim to be.’
    • ‘The #1 rule of grifting is to con the mark in such a way that they don't want to turn you in.’
    • ‘His exceptional skills at grifting combined with his good looks have allowed him to believe that he can con anybody.’
    • ‘Sooner rather than later, Gus' funds begin to run out, so he begins grifting for money.’
    • ‘The writer is more interested in the hype and glamour of grifting then in knowing anything about the reality.’
    • ‘Frank Gorshin and Shirley Jones play a con artist couple who have gambled and grifted their way into the good life.’


North American
  • A petty or small-scale swindle.

    ‘a Sixth Avenue palmistry grift’
    • ‘And Martha discovers that there is a dear price to pay for buying into a world of grifts, scams, and dishonesty.’
    • ‘A few of his old backers, Richard Perle, Michael Rubin, still remain on the team, but it's pretty clear that for most of his former friends, that the grift is over.’
    • ‘At first you think there's some sort of grift going on, a con of some sort, which McConaughey is going to have to figure out.’
    • ‘Today's favorite grift, he says, is offshore money laundering.’
    • ‘Because the movie is too lazy to set up some grifts, Reilly and Luna are established as out-and-out thieves.’
    • ‘The crooked network, centered in New York City, Chicago and Atlanta, reportedly used several grifts.’
    • ‘Back when salesmen were viewed as barely employable con men working some sort of semi-legal grift, the profession was populated almost entirely with drunks.’
    • ‘The challenge of unpredictable variables, as a matter of fact, is what makes a grift fun.’
    • ‘Juan gets caught trying to pull the same grift twice in a convenience store.’
    • ‘Only when Ann Merai and her husband - along with the hundreds of thousands of dollars - go up in smoke, does Matt realize that he's been entangled in an elaborate grift, where every single clue winds up pointing towards him.’
    • ‘Matchstick Men follows the lives of Roy, a veteran of the grift, and his ambitious protégé, Frank.’
    • ‘Because it's basically like a film noir grifter gangster story and Ed's the leader of a con team and they do this complicated grift.’
    sham, fraud, pretence, imposture, hoax, fake, misrepresentation, blind, wile, artifice, trojan horse
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Early 20th century: alteration of graft.