craft / kraft/ • n. 1. an activity involving skill in making things by hand: the craft of bookbinding. ∎ (crafts) work or objects made by hand: local crafts | [as adj.] (craft) a craft fair. ∎ a skilled activity or profession: the historian's craft. ∎ skill in carrying out one's work. ∎ skill used in deceiving others. ∎ the members of a skilled profession. ∎ (the Craft) the brotherhood of Freemasons. 2. (pl. same) a boat or ship. ∎ an airplane or spaceship. • v. [tr.] exercise skill in making (something). DERIVATIVES: craft·er n. ORIGIN: Old English cræft ‘strength, skill,’ of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kracht, German Kraft, and Swedish kraft ‘strength’ (the change of sense to ‘skill’ occurring only in English). Sense 2, originally in the expression small craft ‘small trading vessels or lighters,’ may be elliptical, referring to vessels requiring a small amount of “craft” or skill to handle, as opposed to large oceangoing ships.
A. †strength, power OE.;
B. skill, deceit OE.;
C. art, trade OE.;
D. structure, work XII;
E. vessels, boats XVII. OE. cræft = OS., (O)HG. kraft, ON. kraptr, with no cogns. outside Gmc. As a second el. of comps. in the sense ‘art’, in handicraft, statecraft, witchcraft.
Hence craftsman XIV. crafty †strong; †skilful OE.; cunning, wily XIII. OE. cræftiġ = OS. kraftag, -ig, OHG. kreftig (G. kräftig), ON. krǫptugr; see -Y 1.