Green’s Dictionary of Slang

grafter n.2

[graft v.2 ]

a hard worker, one who perseveres.

[UK]Mirror of Life 20 Jan. 7/2: ‘We are all “grafters,” and should look after our own “game”’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 7 Apr. 1/7: His protest against the sweating of the grafters in the legislative vineyard.
[Aus]H. Lawson On Track 41: ‘What are we to do now?’ enquired Andy, who was the hardest grafter, but altogether helpless, hopeless, and useless in a crisis like this.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Girl and the Graft’ in Strictly Business (1915) 90: Pogue is a conscientious grafter of the highest type.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Push’ in Moods of Ginger Mick 41: There is grafters, an’ there’s blokes ‘oo never done a ’ard day’s work / Till they tumbled, wiv the rest, into the game.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 284: ‘Joey’s a good guy.’ [...] ‘Some little grafter I’ll say.’.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 79: Young Vi’s the best little grafter in the place.
[US]Baker ‘Influence of American Sl. on Australia’ in AS XVIII:4 255: A grafter is a hard worker.
[Aus]D. Stivens Scholarly Mouse and other Tales 66: He was a real grafter and he dug holes about three times as fast as we did, though we weren’t the ones to lie down on the job.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘A Man of Good Will’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 134: The Williams were grafters [...] They never seemed to have any time for recreation.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 138: ‘Grafter’ was his name and grafting was his game.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 18: It’s the bloody Ally Frasers of this world that people respect. Not grafters like you and me.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 155: A Rich Boy’s cock-up, at that. No grafter would deliberately suppress the market.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 37: These Bajans are church people [...] They’re grafters in the old-fashiopned sense.
[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Grafters — Pitchmen.