Etymology
Advertisement
shaft (v.)
"treat cruelly and unfairly," by 1958, perhaps from shaft (n.1) with overtones of sodomy. Related: Shafted; shafting.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
shaft (n.2)
"long, narrow passage sunk into the earth," early 15c., probably from shaft (n.1) on notion of "long and cylindrical," perhaps as a translation of cognate Low German schacht in this sense (Grimm's suggestion, though OED is against it). Or it may represent a separate (unrecorded) development in Old English directly from Proto-Germanic *skaftaz if the original sense is "scrape, dig." The slang sense of shaft (n.1) is punned upon in country music song "She Got the Gold Mine, I Got the Shaft," a hit for Jerry Reed in 1982.
Related entries & more 
butt (n.4)
"flat fish," c. 1300, a general Germanic name applied to various kinds of flat fishes (Old Swedish but "flatfish," German Butte, Dutch bot), from Proto-Germanic *butt-, name for a flat fish, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike." "Hence butt-woman, who sells these, a fish-wife." [OED]
Related entries & more 
butt (n.6)
"posterior, buttocks, rump," from mid-15c. in cookery, in reference to animal parts, probably from or related to butt (n.1) "thick end," or short for buttock. In modern use chiefly of humans, probably an independent derivation, attested by c. 1860 in U.S. slang.
Related entries & more 
butt (n.5)
"a push or thrust with the head," 1640s, from butt (v.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
butt (n.2)
"liquor barrel, cask for wine or ale," late 14c., from Anglo-French but and Old French bot "barrel, wine-skin" (14c., Modern French botte), from Late Latin buttis "cask" (see bottle (n.)). Cognate with Spanish and Portuguese bota, Italian botte. Usually a cask holding 108 to 140 gallons, or roughly two hogsheads; at one time a butt was a legal measure, but it varied greatly and the subject is a complicated one (see notes in Century Dictionary).
Related entries & more 
butt (n.3)
"target of a joke, object of ridicule," 1610s, from earlier sense "target for shooting practice, turf-covered mound against which an archery target was set," (mid-14c.), from Old French but "aim, goal, end, target" of an arrow, etc. (13c.), which seems to be a fusion of Old French words for "end" (bot) and "aim, goal" (but), both ultimately from Germanic. The latter is from Frankish *but "stump, stock, block," or some other Germanic source (compare Old Norse butr "log of wood"), which would connect it with butt (n.1).
Related entries & more 
shaft (n.1)
Old English sceaft "long, slender rod, staff, pole; spear-shaft; spear," from Proto-Germanic *skaftaz (source also of Old Norse skapt, Old Saxon skaft, Old High German scaft, German schaft, Dutch schacht, not found in Gothic), which some connect with a Germanic passive past participle of PIE root *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape" (source of Old English scafan "to shave, scrape, polish") on notion of "tree branch stripped of its bark." But compare Latin scapus "shaft, stem, shank," Greek skeptron "a staff" (see scepter) which appear to be cognates.

Meaning "beam or ray" (of light, etc.) is attested from c. 1300. Sense of "an arrow" is from c. 1400; that of "a handle" from 1520s. Mechanical sense is from 1680s. Vulgar slang meaning "penis" first recorded 1719 on notion of "columnar part" (late 14c.); hence probably shaft (v.) and the related noun sense "act of unfair treatment" (1959), though some early sources insist this is from the notion of a "wound."
Related entries & more 
butt (n.1)
"thick end," c. 1400, butte, which probably is related to Middle Dutch and Dutch bot, Low German butt "blunt, dull," Old Norse bauta, from Proto-Germanic *buttan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike." Or related somehow to Old English buttuc "end, small piece of land," and Old Norse butr "short," from Proto-Germanic *butaz, which is from the same PIE root. Also probably mixed with Old French bot "extremity, end," which also is from Germanic (compare butt (n.3)). Meaning "remainder of a smoked cigarette" first recorded 1847.
Related entries & more 
butt (v.)
"hit with the head, strike by thrusting" (as with the end of a beam or thick stick), c. 1200, from Anglo-French buter, Old French boter "to push, shove, knock; to thrust against," from Frankish or another Germanic source (compare Old Norse bauta, Low German boten "to strike, beat"), from Proto-Germanic *butan, from PIE root *bhau- "to strike."

Meaning "to join at the end, be contiguous" is from 1660s, partly a shortening of abut. To butt in "rudely intrude" is American English slang, attested from 1900. Related: Butted; butting.
Related entries & more