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[uhn-shift] /ʌnˈʃɪft/
verb (used without object)
to release the shift key, as on a typewriter or the keyboard of a computer terminal.
Origin of unshift
1965-70; un-2 + shift


[shift] /ʃɪft/
verb (used with object)
to put (something) aside and replace it by another or others; change or exchange:
to shift friends; to shift ideas.
to transfer from one place, position, person, etc., to another:
to shift the blame onto someone else.
Automotive. to change (gears) from one ratio or arrangement to another.
Linguistics. to change in a systematic way, especially phonetically.
verb (used without object)
to move from one place, position, direction, etc., to another.
to manage to get along or succeed by oneself.
to get along by indirect methods; use any expediency, trick, or evasion to get along or succeed:
He shifted through life.
to change gears in driving an automobile.
Linguistics. to undergo a systematic, especially phonetic, change.
to press a shift key, as on a typewriter keyboard.
Archaic. to change one's clothes.
a change or transfer from one place, position, direction, person, etc., to another:
a shift in the wind.
a person's scheduled period of work, especially the portion of the day scheduled as a day's work when a shop, service, office, or industry operates continuously during both the day and night:
She prefers the morning shift.
a group of workers scheduled to work during such a period:
The night shift reported.
Baseball. a notable repositioning by several fielders to the left or the right of their normal playing position, an occasional strategy against batters who usually hit the ball to the same side of the field.
Automotive. a gearshift.
  1. a straight, loose-fitting dress worn with or without a belt.
  2. a woman's chemise or slip.
Football. a lateral or backward movement from one position to another, usually by two or more offensive players just before the ball is put into play.
Mining. a dislocation of a seam or stratum; fault.
Music. a change in the position of the left hand on the fingerboard in playing a stringed instrument.
  1. a change or system of parallel changes that affects the sound structure of a language, as the series of related changes in the English vowel system from Middle English to Modern English.
  2. a change in the meaning or use of a word.
an expedient; ingenious device.
an evasion, artifice, or trick.
change or substitution.
Bridge. shift bid.
  1. any of successive crops.
  2. the tract of land used.
an act or instance of using the shift key, as on a typewriter keyboard.
shift gears. gear (def 19).
before 1000; (v.) Middle English shiften to arrange, Old English sciftan; cognate with German schichten to arrange in order, Old Norse skipta to divide; (noun) Middle English: contrivance, start, derivative of the v.
Related forms
shiftingly, adverb
shiftingness, noun
intershifting, adjective
reshift, verb
transshift, verb
unshifting, adjective
Can be confused
shift, shrift.
1. substitute. 22. contrivance, resource, resort. 23. wile, ruse, subterfuge, stratagem. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unshifting
Historical Examples
  • Her likes and dislikes, for all the inertness of her demeanour, were clear and unshifting.

    Christmas Roses and Other Stories Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • The wind came out of a steel-blue sky, unshifting and relentless.

    Brothers of Peril Theodore Goodridge Roberts
  • This portion of smooth, unshifting sand comprises about 80 acres.

    A Report upon the Mollusk Fisheries of Massachusetts Commissioners on Fisheries and Game
  • Dams and shear-dykes direct the water in permanent, unshifting channels.

    Old Times on the Upper Mississippi George Byron Merrick
  • When sewed tightly in rawhide bags it became an unshifting mass by the shrinking of the leather under the rays of the sun.

    Bring Me His Ears Clarence E. Mulford
  • It seemed as though the small group of light-beams, darting back and forth, nevertheless originated from one unshifting place.

    The White Invaders Raymond King Cummings
British Dictionary definitions for unshifting


to move or cause to move from one place or position to another
(transitive) to change for another or others
to change (gear) in a motor vehicle
(intransitive) (of a sound or set of sounds) to alter in a systematic way
(intransitive) to provide for one's needs (esp in the phrase shift for oneself)
(intransitive) to proceed by indirect or evasive methods
to remove or be removed, esp with difficulty: no detergent can shift these stains
(intransitive) (slang) to move quickly
(transitive) (computing) to move (bits held in a store location) to the left or right
the act or an instance of shifting
a group of workers who work for a specific period
the period of time worked by such a group
an expedient, contrivance, or artifice
the displacement of rocks, esp layers or seams in mining, at a geological fault
an underskirt or dress with little shaping
Derived Forms
shifter, noun
Word Origin
Old English sciftan; related to Old Norse skipta to divide, Middle Low German schiften, to separate
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 unshifting



Old English sciftan, scyftan "arrange, place, order," also "divide, partition; distribute, allot, share," from Proto-Germanic *skiftan (cf. Old Norse skipta "to divide, change, separate," Old Frisian skifta "to decide, determine, test," Dutch schiften "to divide, turn," German schichten "to classify," Schicht "shift"). This is said to be related to the source of Old English sceadan "divide, separate," (see shed (v.)).

c.1200 as "to dispose; make ready; set in order, control," also intransitive, "take care of oneself." From c.1300 as "to go, move, depart; move (someone or something), transport." Sense of "to alter, to change" appeared mid-13c. (cf. shiftless). Meaning "change the gear setting of an engine" is from 1910; to shift gears in the figurative sense is from 1961. Related: Shifted; shifting.


c.1300, "a movement, a beginning," from shift (v.). This is the word in to make shift "make efforts" (mid-15c.). Sense of "change, alteration" is from 1560s. Sense of "means to an end" is from 1520s; hence "an expedient." Meaning "mechanism for changing gear in a motor vehicle" is recorded from 1914. Typewriter shift key is from 1893; shift-lock is from 1899.

Meaning "period of working time" (originally in a mine) is attested from 1809, with older sense "relay of horses" (1708); perhaps with sense influenced by a North Sea Germanic cognate word (e.g. North Frisian skeft "division, stratum," skaft "one of successive parties of workmen"). Similar double senses of "division" and "relay of workers" exist in Swedish skift, German schicht.

"body garment, underclothing," 1590s, originally used alike of men's and women's pieces, probably from shift (n.1), which was commonly used in reference to a change of clothes. In 17c., it began to be used as a euphemism for smock, and was itself displaced, for similar reasons of delicacy, in 19c. by chemise.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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unshifting in Medicine

shift (shĭft)
v. shift·ed, shift·ing, shifts

  1. To move or transfer from one place or position to another.

  2. To alter position or place.

  3. To exchange one thing for another of the same type or class.

  1. A change from one person or configuration to another; a substitution.

  2. A change in position.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for unshifting


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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