Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shaft n.

1. in physiological senses.

(a) (also prickshaft) the penis [note blaxploitation films of the 1970s, starring macho private eye ‘John Shaft’].

[UK]Davies of Hereford Scourge of Folly 160: Many Archers do as good, and pricke with Shaftes as low.
[UK]J. Taylor Whore in Works II 107: [She] Abides the brunt of many a prickshaft shot.
[UK]Rowley Match at Midnight II i: moll: What a suiter have I got, I am sorry you are so bad an Archer sir. eare.: Why Bird, why Bird? moll.: Why, to shoote at Buts, when you shou’d use prick-shafts, short shooting will loose ye the game.
[UK] ‘On Luce Morgan’ in Wardroper (1969) 378: A friar’s shaft she lacked alone, Because in England here was none. At last some vestal fire she stole Which never went out in her hole, And with that zealous fire being burned, Unto the Romish faith she turned, And therein died.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 72: It is a Shaft of Cupid’s cut. ’Twill serve to Rove, to Prick, to Butt; There’s never a Maid, but by her will Will keep it in her Quiver still.
[UK]Crim.-Con. Gaz. 6 Apr. 107/3: Question and Answer [...] Why do the poets so much extol Cupid for his shaft, being but a boy?
[UK]Lustful Memoirs of a Young and Passionated Girl 41: He overcame her resistance and that hard and shining shaft was again buried completely in her body.
[US]R.H. Rimmer Harrad Experiment 109: Her snatch must be made of gold. I want to stick my shaft in her little gold mine.
[US](con. 1945) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 401: She trailed her fingertips along his hard shaft.
[US]B. Judell ‘Sexual Anarchy’ in Blue Boy (Miami) Aug./Sept. in Jay & Young (1979) 137: Only what turns one on is important. A slightly elongated nipple, a nine-inch shaft.
[US]Maledicta III:2 232: He [i.e. the homosexual male] also may or may not know the following words and expressions: [...] give him the shaft.
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 332: I slide my hand up and down my hardened shaft.
M.E. Dassad ‘Chickenhawk’ at 🌐 I could feel her belly tightening beneath me as I slammed my shaft in and out of her snatch, slickly lubricated with her own lust.

(b) (US) a (woman’s) leg.

[Scot]Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland (1892) 31: Dinner Sentiments [...] Instructions in Riding ‘[...] secure your seat in the saddle, and then try posting between a pair of shafts’.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 5/1: Bum shaft – Bad leg.
[US]W. Winchell Your Broadway & Mine 15 Nov. [synd. col.] [The] paper [...] referred to the femme shaft [...] as a ‘limb’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Shaft, a woman’s leg.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 21 Mar. [synd. col.] Ann Sheridan is credited by her studio as having the prettiest shafts of any lassie in Hollywood.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 76: That excited filly had some pair of shafts, hey, Noodles?

(c) (US) a woman’s body, considered simply as a sexual object.

[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 411: Every time I sees a pretty cunt come walkin’ up de street, I says, wit’ a mean shaft an’ a sweet pair o’ knockers, Jesus, O’Toole, I says, dere’s a mare I’d radder lay den lay on.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 43: A shaft like that wasted on a clown like Drunkie John.

2. (orig. US) unfair treatment; often as the shaft.

[US]J. Lait ‘Ten Dollars’ Worth’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 236: ‘I’ve been thinking.’ ‘Write me a hundred words about that—that’s a front-page item,’ said the city editor. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ said the Girdler, side-stepping the shaft.
[US]Poston ‘Problems in the Study of Campus Sl.’ in AS XXXIX:2 116: It becomes more common in college to indicate an unfair arrangement (raw deal, shaft).
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 192: […] Shaft, give him the Reject someone for membership in a club, frat., etc.
[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 54: shaft ‘unfair treatment’.
[US]Maledicta 1 Summer 14: Someone who is prone to cheat or compete unfairly [...] gives you the shaft, or shafts you.
[US]G.W. Clemente Cops are Robbers 120: [H]e knew as well as I that the force wanted to give me the shaft.

3. (US) a single thrust of sexual intercourse.

[US]‘Troy Conway’ Cunning Linguist (1973) 152: She began to babble delightedly as each shaft tapped her mine of gushers.

4. a contemptible person.

[UK]Observer 31 May 🌐 ‘I think he’s [i.e. D. Cummings] a shaft but I also think the level of hysteria has been insane’.

In compounds

shaftsman (n.) (also shaft artist) [-artist sfx]

a cheat, a deceiver.

[US]Maledicta 1 Summer 14: Someone who is prone to cheat or compete unfairly is now known as a shaftsman or shaft-artist.

In phrases

get the shaft (v.) (also get the purple shaft, …royal shaft)(orig. US)

1. to be treated unfairly or harshly.

[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 256: Maybe it ain’t none of my business, but I hate to see a guy gettin’ the shaft.
[US]L.P. Boone ‘Gator Sl.’ AS XXXIV:2 155: The loser gets the shaft [...], the purple shaft, or the maroon harpoon, depending upon the degree of injury to his pride.
[US]P. Rabe My Lovely Executioner (2006) 126: He’s gonna get the shaft so he takes it out on me.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 192: Shaft, get the Do poorly on something. Treated unfairly on an exam.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 230: Puglisi gets a pat on the back [...] we get the shaft.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 112: Because he’s so goddamned convinced that he is getting the shaft, he is going to get the shaft.
[Aus]Hackworth & Sherman About Face (1991) 120: One night after he got his usual shaft, he blew up.
[US]E. Ruggero 38 North Yankee 2540: We’re all in the same boat. We’re all getting the royal shaft.
Burrough & Helyar Barbarians at the Gate 424: ‘We got the shaft, Charlie,’ he complained to Hugel that day. [...] ‘I just think we got the shaft.’.

2. to dismiss from a job.

E. Kurtz ‘In the Neighborhood’ in ThugLit Dec. [ebook] He’d gotten the shaft at the warehouse, shitcanned without so much as a [...] handshake.
sink the shaft (v.)

see under sink v.