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 employe, 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."
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)