Grifter (n.) - Sargon Of Akkad is a Grifter‽
One who misuses her position in public or political life to reap dishonest gain or advantage.
History & Etymology
Before looking into this word I thought it had a much narrower definition based on its usage in recent news articles. I thought it would be something more specifically political and have to do with lying about what you believe. When it really just means “scam artist.”
I seem to be coming across a lot of words lately with ambiguous origins. Grifter seems to be a vowel change, possibly a an American vowel change from the a sound to the I sound. This older form of the word that grifter came from was grafter. Graft the root of grafter came in to English naturally through it Germanic roots and goes all the way back to the Pre-Germanic ghrābh- which meant “to dig or carve.” It’s also the origin of many words like groove, engrave, or grave. That last word wasn’t always just a noun representing a hole in the ground where the dead are buried it used to be a verb meaning to dig. That definition of graft eventually expand to include work, and especially hard menial work, the lowes kinds of work like digging holes. As the word gathered more and more disdain and became almost a rude word, and it’s sounds changed from grave to graft, it became associated with the worst kinds of work generally criminal or dishonest.