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From Middle English craft, from Old English cræft ‎(physical strength, might, courage, science, skill, art, ability, talent, virtue, excellence, trade, handicraft, calling, work or product of art, hex, trick, fraud, deceit, machine, instrument), from Proto-Germanic *kraftaz ‎(power), from Proto-Indo-European *ger- ‎(to turn, wind). Cognate with Saterland Frisian kraft ‎(strength), West Frisian krêft ‎(strength), Dutch kracht ‎(strength, force, power), German Kraft ‎(strength, force, power), Swedish kraft ‎(power, force, drive, energy), Icelandic kraftur ‎(power).



craft ‎(countable and uncountable, plural craft or crafts)

  1. (obsolete) Strength; power; might.
  2. (uncountable) Ability; dexterity; skill, especially skill in making plans and carrying them into execution; dexterity in managing affairs; adroitness; practical cunning.
    • Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
      A poem is the work of the poet; poesy is his skill or craft of making.
    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
      Since the birth of time, throughout all ages and nations, / Has the craft of the smith been held in repute.
  3. (uncountable) Cunning, art, skill, or dexterity applied to bad purposes; artifice; guile; subtlety; shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception.
    • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
      You have that crooked wisdom which is called craft.
    • Bible, Mark xiv.1:
      The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
  4. (obsolete) A device; a means; an art; art in general.
  5. (countable, plural: crafts) The skilled practice of a practical occupation.
  6. The members of a trade collectively; guild.
    She represented the craft of brewers.
  7. (nautical, whaling) Implements used in catching fish, such as net, line, or hook. Modern use primarily in whaling, as in harpoons, hand-lances, etc.
    • a. 1784, “An Act for encouraging and regulating Fiſheries”, in Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America, T. Green (1784), p.79:
      And whereas the continual Interruption of the Courſe and Paſſage of the Fiſh up the Rivers, by the daily drawing of Seins and other Fiſh-Craft, tends to prevent their Increaſe, []
    • 1869 April 27, C. M. Scammon, Edward D. Cope (editor), “On the Cetaceans of the Western Coast of North America”, in Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Volume 21, p.46:
    The whaling craft consists of harpoons, lances, lines, and sealskin buoys, all of their own workmanship.
    • a. 1923, Charles Boardman Hawes, “A Boy Who Went Whaling”, in The Highest Hit: and Other Selections by Newbery Authors,[1] Gareth Stevens Publishing (2001), ISBN 9780836828566, p.47:
      From the mate’s boat they removed, at his direction, all whaling gear and craft except the oars and a single lance.
    • 1950, in Discovery Reports, Volume 26,[2] Cambridge University Press, p.318:
      [] Temple, a negro of New Bedford, who made ‘whalecraft’, that is, was a blacksmith engaged in working from iron the special utensils or ‘craft’ of the whaling trade.
    • 1991, Joan Druett, Petticoat Whalers: Whaling Wives at Sea, 1820–1920, University Press of New England (2001), ISBN 978-1-58465-159-8, p.55:
      The men raced about decks collecting the whaling craft and gear and putting them into the boats, while all the time the lookouts hollered from above.
  8. (nautical) Boats, especially of smaller size than ships. Historically primarily applied to vessels engaged in loading or unloading of other vessels, as lighters, hoys, and barges.
    1. (figuratively) A woman.
      • 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter IX, The Younger Set:
        “A tight little craft,” was Austin’s invariable comment on the matron; and she looked it, always trim and trig and smooth of surface like a converted yacht cleared for action.
  9. (nautical, British Royal Navy) Those vessels attendant on a fleet, such as cutters, schooners, and gun-boats, generally commanded by lieutenants.
  10. (countable, plural: craft) A vehicle designed for navigation in or on water or air or through outer space.
  11. (countable, plural: crafts) A particular kind of skilled work.
    He learned his craft as an apprentice.

Usage notes[edit]

The unchanged plural is used if the word means vehicle(s). Otherwise the regular plural is used.

Derived terms[edit]




craft ‎(third-person singular simple present crafts, present participle crafting, simple past and past participle crafted)

  1. To make by hand and with much skill.
  2. To construct, develop something (like a skilled craftsman): "state crafting", "crafting global policing".
  3. (video games) to combine multiple items to form a new item



  • Krueger, Dennis (December 1982). "Why On Earth Do They Call It Throwing?" Studio Potter Vol. 11, Number 1.[3]