Definition of shaft in English:

shaft

noun

  • 1A long, narrow part or section forming the handle of a tool or club, the body of a spear or arrow, or similar.

    ‘the shaft of a golf club’
    ‘the shaft of a feather’
    • ‘The first volley rang out as the sky further darkened by the shafts of thousands of arrows and bolts.’
    • ‘The individual strings seem to hang from central shafts, each string as long as the shaft from the point it attaches.’
    • ‘It came apart with a click and a spark of electricity, the long shaft separating from the body.’
    • ‘We heard the rhythmic pounding as the spear points were hammered onto shafts of ash wood.’
    • ‘The sun was partially blocked by the shafts of the arrows which had soared across the sky.’
    • ‘They took their spear by the shaft, and made it lean on the knee.’
    • ‘The shaft of the cutting tool fits into a collet, which in turn fits into the chuck sleeve.’
    • ‘They may have a short shaft or a blade at each end.’
    • ‘The forging process and the hieretics on the shaft of the staff pointed to high craftsmenship years ahead of the Egyptians.’
    • ‘Small worked flint blades known as microliths were perhaps the barbs of spears and harpoons with wooden shafts.’
    • ‘The shaft of long handled tools should be a light wood, such as ash, and should be unpainted and free of knots.’
    • ‘He shook the handle, causing the shaft to snap into place, and pulled the lever back until it clicked, and released it.’
    • ‘Move down the shaft of each section of hair and continue tying knots from the root of your hair to about 2 inches from the ends.’
    • ‘He snapped two fists around the shaft of his halberd.’
    • ‘This type is characterized by a square cross section and an offset shaft that served to seat the awl in a bone or antler handle.’
    • ‘He found her fondling the shaft of her spear, a few steps away.’
    • ‘Maintaining a good posture, rotate the upper body to the right so that the shaft of the club is in front of you.’
    • ‘She cringed as her black blood ran down the shaft of the spear.’
    • ‘A slip of paper was tied around the shaft of the arrow.’
    • ‘It had a long shaft like a spear, but was more of a polearm than a thrusting weapon.’
    pole, stick, rod, staff, shank, upright
    quill
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An arrow or spear.
      • ‘Her heart soared with the swift flash of the shaft as it flew from the bow.’
    2. 1.2 A column, especially the main part between the base and capital.
      • ‘This cross, one of five contracted to John of Battle, is an octagonal pier in three tiers on a stepped base; the shaft at its top was installed in a restoration of 1840.’
      • ‘There were marble craters (mixing bowls) and candelabra, statuary, busts, reliefs, column capitals and bases, and 60 to 70 marble column shafts.’
      • ‘After all, the column, with its capital, shaft, and base, is designed after the human figure.’
      • ‘There, although little had been reported by earlier scholars, we recorded Byzantine sculpture, an inscribed Byzantine tombstone, and several column shafts and capitals.’
      • ‘The freestanding column shafts are wrapped in black glazed tiles and the bases have a mosaic finish.’
      column, post, pole, support, upright, vertical, baluster, pier, pile, piling, pilaster, stanchion, standard, prop, buttress
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 A long cylindrical rotating rod for the transmission of motive power in a machine.
      • ‘It is even more silent than the four-wheel drive versions, as there is much less mechanical noise from beneath the floor, due to the absence of propellor shaft and rear axle.’
      • ‘In 1782, Watt developed a rotary engine that could turn a shaft and drive machinery to power the machines to spin and weave cotton cloth.’
      • ‘The gearbox gets over both problems by being two half-gearboxes in one case, with two clutches and two transmission shafts, one inside the other.’
      • ‘The valves and gear shafts in his mind spun faster and faster, spark plugs flickering with anticipation.’
      • ‘Before the decade's end, it was discovered that an individual motor for each machine was more efficient and a lot safer than line shafts.’
      • ‘As far as that goes I am willing to believe what I am told: that escalators are big, complicated machines packed into tight shafts and there aren't many hours when you can work on them.’
      • ‘The cams are mounted on a shaft which oscillates in rotation, and the pistons move so as to follow the profile of the cam.’
      • ‘The water wheel axle shaft still turned and made a squeaky noise but Don could hear the footsteps of someone on the floor above him.’
      • ‘The crank shaft turned the paddle shaft, which ultimately turned the paddle wheel.’
      • ‘The first things to go in were the engines, a job that required a lot of measuring and development of a gear train to match their output to the belts and shafts that drove the looms.’
      • ‘The feed was controlled by a hand lever at the top of the gear box and driven by belt, gears and universal shaft, giving a positive feed.’
      • ‘Figure 4 shows the digital and analog controller responses to a mechanical impulse on the shaft.’
      • ‘The spindle shaft rests between the maiden in the front and leather bearings attached to the flat board in the back.’
      • ‘These assemblies consist of a cylindrical shaft supported at either end by a support bearing.’
      • ‘The hub motor's shaft is stationary and the outer casing spins, turning the rim and tire to which it is spoked.’
      • ‘Blades up to 3 1/2 inches wide could be carried and both wheel shafts now ran in sell-aligning ball bearings.’
      • ‘This resistance could be reduced if the fixed shafts of the rollers were rotated as they moved.’
      • ‘The Compaction Detector is a soil penetrometer cone and shaft pushed by a hydraulic cylinder, rather than by hand, into the ground.’
      • ‘It has an area of 280 square metres and is complete with waterwheel, gears and shafts, millstones and fans and sieves for the processing of grain.’
      • ‘The rheostat shafts are essentially cylinders with a flat face cut down one side.’
    4. 1.4 Each of the pair of poles between which a horse is harnessed to a vehicle.
      ‘the shafts of a horse-drawn wagon’
  • 2A ray of light or bolt of lightning.

    ‘a shaft of sunlight’
    • ‘A shaft of light moved across my eyes, rousing me from deep slumber.’
    • ‘The coming of the dawn sent a shaft of light right across Adam's face.’
    • ‘Illuminated by a shaft of light from the ceiling, the altar glowed with brimming power, standing immaculate in the centre of the hall.’
    • ‘The skies cracked as a shaft of lightning, unleashed with the power of electrical fury, uncannily sped towards his still form on the ground.’
    • ‘Chris trembled as a shaft of the black light touched her skin.’
    • ‘In a shaft of light from the salon his smile looked almost evil.’
    • ‘It was one of those special moments when you get a shaft of light, when something which you thought you couldn't know emerges, and you suddenly see what was going on.’
    • ‘He hurled it into the chest of the monster and the trident transformed itself into a shaft of lightning, exploding into the beast.’
    • ‘But as I approached the area where I could see a shaft of light, I stopped.’
    • ‘There was a shaft of light that I followed into the room.’
    • ‘In an annual commemorative ritual tied to sun and sky, a shaft of light will illuminate the void between the time of the first and second attacks.’
    • ‘She focussed on the relaxing qualities of that beautiful shaft of silver moonlight.’
    • ‘I imagined that he was standing in a shaft of white light, though he was only a shadow within that light.’
    • ‘Watch the camera slowly track down a dark hallway toward a shaft of light from a crack in a door.’
    • ‘As the music subsides they are both bathed in red light before a shaft of white light signifies the flight of their spirits to eternity.’
    • ‘Dust specks drift through a shaft of light in Grand Central Station.’
    • ‘A woman in a red skirt is caught in a shaft of white light and appears to be dragging a heavy shadow behind her.’
    • ‘So the building is metaphorically pinned to its place with a shaft of light from the sky that illuminates the whole labyrinth of knowledge.’
    • ‘She departed the command center and stepped into a shaft of white light in the atrium outside.’
    • ‘The curtains were open and moonlight streamed through the windows, a shaft of light landing on the pillow.’
    ray, beam, gleam, streak, pencil, finger, bar
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A sudden flash of a quality or feeling.
      ‘a shaft of inspiration’
      • ‘Almost immediately she tripped and fell over, hitting the ground heavily, the impact forcing the breath from her body and sending a shaft of agony through her belly.’
      • ‘Claire checked herself immediately when an almost jealous shaft of emotion went through her.’
      • ‘It shook him to the core with a ghostly shaft of fear impaling his quivering heart.’
      • ‘At that a sudden shaft of fear struck through her abdomen, and she was tempted to retch or scream.’
      frisson, shiver, spasm, thrill, tingle, stab, dart
      View synonyms
    2. 2.2 A remark intended to be witty, wounding, or provoking.
      ‘he directs his shafts against her’
      cutting remark, barb, gibe, taunt, sting
      View synonyms
  • 3A long, narrow, typically vertical hole that gives access to a mine, accommodates a lift in a building, or provides ventilation.

    • ‘The other team crashed down through the ceiling, having climbed along the ventilation shafts, right down on top of the African Hardwood conference desk.’
    • ‘At first I thought it was a holo-fall, but then saw it was just silvery linen, blowing this way and that from two ventilation shafts.’
    • ‘Then, gas entered the ship through the ventilation shafts, and she lost consciousness.’
    • ‘They got down to the end of the corridor to the hole in the door leading to the lift shaft.’
    • ‘With the help of the schematics he had obtained earlier, he managed to shut off the security system and enter through a ventilation shaft - an air duct.’
    • ‘For example, we were required to provide straight vertical shafts for plumbing, running from the ground to the highest unit.’
    • ‘Another precipitous passage comes to a landing with vertical shafts disappearing into the ceiling.’
    • ‘Then, add to the atrium a luminous white skin of glazed bricks and a series of feature elements - balconies, stairs and stripped down lift shafts - and you very nearly have a new building.’
    • ‘They mine diamonds in a shaft, the entrance to which is inside their house.’
    • ‘By this time the mine had three shafts, many large stopes and hundreds of metres of drives.’
    • ‘‘I've looked around this room and it appears there are no ventilation shafts,’ said Jonathan.’
    • ‘There are no doors, no windows, no pipes, no ventilation shafts.’
    • ‘Athena kneeled down and lifted up what appeared to be only a ventilation shaft, but was in fact an access panel.’
    • ‘The shaft was merely a hole in the ground and the mining equipment was generally specialised and not readily moved.’
    • ‘As many as six shafts were sunk to mine the silver ore.’
    • ‘Newspapers lift up the vertical shaft of the alley like small printed angels.’
    • ‘The original stair hall, with an inserted glass lift shaft, provides the circulation linkage between the new and original pools.’
    • ‘I need that area to be completely airtight, including partitions and ventilation shafts.’
    • ‘Coal was the fuel that fired the Industrial Revolution, coal was found in coal mines, and cages were needed to transport men and supplies up and down the shafts of these mines.’
    • ‘It was about the same size as the ventilation shafts at the school I rescued hostages from as my first mission, except it was round, not square.’
    mineshaft, tunnel, passage, pit, adit, downcast, upcast
    View synonyms
  • 4vulgar slang A man's penis.

    1. 4.1the shaftNorth American informal Harsh or unfair treatment.
      ‘the executives continue to raise their pay while the workers get the shaft’

verb

  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction (of light) shine in beams.

    ‘brilliant sunshine shafted through the skylight’
    • ‘A small light shafted from a hole in the ceiling, which actually was a road above.’
    • ‘The bright purple and red colors from the sunset shafted through the hundreds of small square panes in the windows, and dropped onto the cracked asphalt, which was growing gnarled and full of weeds.’
    • ‘Light shafted out of the box like the fall of a sword - a bright, white, ruthless light.’
  • 2vulgar slang with object (of a man) have sexual intercourse with (a woman).

    1. 2.1informal Treat (someone) harshly or unfairly.
      ‘I suppose she'll get a lawyer and I'll be shafted’

Origin

Old English scæft, sceaft ‘handle, pole’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch schaft, German Schaft, and perhaps also to sceptre. Early senses of the verb ( late Middle English) were ‘fit with a handle’ and ‘send out shafts of light’.

Pronunciation

shaft

/ʃɑːft/