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[shif-tee] /ˈʃɪf ti/
adjective, shiftier, shiftiest.
resourceful; fertile in expedients.
given to or full of evasions; tricky.
suggesting a deceptive or evasive character:
a shifty look.
Origin of shifty
First recorded in 1560-70; shift + -y1
Related forms
shiftily, adverb
shiftiness, noun
unshifty, adjective
2. crafty, foxy, slippery. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shifty
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The shifty, ungenerous spirit of compromise awoke in Raymount.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Eccles faced him unwillingly, with a stolid front but shifty eyes.

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • He gave an impression of dry dinginess, like rawhide, and his eyes were mean and shifty.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • He stared at her fixedly, his shifty eyes for once held steady.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • “I am that,” exclaimed the other, with a gleam of cupidity in his shifty eyes.

    The Golden Woman Ridgwell Cullum
  • Most teachers know better, but let the shifty and dull pass by.

    College Teaching Paul Klapper
  • Conboy looked at him with quick flashing of his shifty eyes.

    Trail's End

    George W. Ogden
  • He's all right in his way, but he's as shifty as a jumpin' bean.

    Torchy and Vee Sewell Ford
British Dictionary definitions for shifty


adjective shiftier, shiftiest
given to evasions; artful
furtive in character or appearance
full of expedients; resourceful
Derived Forms
shiftily, adverb
shiftiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for shifty

1560s, "able to manage for oneself, fertile in expedients," from shift (n.1) in secondary sense of "dodge, trick, artifice" + -y (2). Meaning "habitually using dishonest methods, characterized by trickery" first recorded 1837. In a sense "prone to shifting," of the wind, used from 1884. Related: Shiftily; shiftiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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