1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Graft

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GRAFT (a modified form of the earlier "graff," through the French from the Late Lat. graphium, a stylus or pencil), a small branch, shoot or "scion," transferred from one plant or tree to another, the “stock,” and inserted in it so that the two unite (see Horticulture). The name was adopted from the resemblance in shape of the "graft" to a pencil. The transfer of living tissue from one portion of an organism to another part of the same or different organism where it adheres and grows is also known as "grafting," and is frequently practised in modern surgery. The word is applied, in carpentry, to an attachment of the ends of timbers, and, as a nautical term, to the "whipping" or "pointing" of a rope's end with fine twine to prevent unravelling. "Graft" is used as a slang term, in England, for a "piece of hard work." In American usage Webster's Dictionary (ed. 1904) defines the word as "the act of any one, especially an official or public employé, by which he procures money surreptitiously by virtue of his office or position; also the surreptitious gain thus procured." It is thus a word embracing blackmail and illicit commission., The origin of the English use of the word is probably an obsolete word "graft," a portion of earth thrown up by a spade, from the Teutonic root meaning "to dig," seen in German graben, and English "grave."