Green’s Dictionary of Slang

graft v.2

[graft n.2 ]

to work hard, to make an effort, to struggle; thus grafting n.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 47: GRAFT, to go to work.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 145/2: When a wheel-man reported himself sick, he was not obliged to ‘graft’ the ‘stepper’ until after the doctor had examined him.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 181: Graft work; ‘Where are you grafting?’ i.e., where do you work? ‘What graft are you at?’ what are you doing? Perhaps derived from gardening phraseology; or a variation of craft.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 9/4: Instead of ‘grafting’ away at leading articles, as Ebenezer had to do, David Syme makes the grand tour, imports choice specimens of cattle, and sells one of his country seats to the Governor.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Baldy Thompson’ in Roderick (1972) 108: I grafted like a nigger for him for over fifty years.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 170: As quiet a bloke as ever grafted in a boiler works.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 19 May 4/8: I’m a bloke wot grafts inside a grocer’s shop.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Letter from Benno’ in Roderick (1972) 843: All about the hard grafting and funny and exciting parts of it they’ve told us already.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 54: [T]he women [...] seem quite content to graft away like billy-oh, while their owners lie in the shade and smoke.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 103: If she wasn’t a fool [...] she’d graft herself enough to start something of her own.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 12: My father was one of them half-starved wheat-cockies out from Temora. Graft! He grafted like a team of bullocks.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 243: [We] would have grafted together every working day.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 27: I did not want her to think she had got herself lumbered with an idle layabout who had to see the larder empty before he would go out and graft.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 138: ‘Grafter’ was his name and grafting was his game.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 186: Grafting Working hard, either honestly or otherwise.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 76: No one could possibly expect me to graft away in some lowly position.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 214: They were a good group of men grafting in a relaxed and happy atmosphere.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 9: Grafting all week just to get charged up or maybe serving up a few grams to pals to pay for it.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Line of Sight [ebook] All those years of grafting, and now finally the big time.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 9: Been back graftin at ma auld job as a chippy.
[UK]Times Times2 3 June 3/1: Love Island: a handy glossary Graft To put in an effort to impress a potential other half.

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