adjective, adverb

floating without control; drifting; not anchored or moored: The survivors were adrift in the rowboat for three days.
lacking aim, direction, or stability.

Origin of adrift

First recorded in 1615–25; a-1 + drift Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adrift

Contemporary Examples of adrift

Historical Examples of adrift

  • But we were afraid to lose sight of the bridge, lest we should get all adrift.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • "I think if I were up there I'd cut us adrift," said Stanley grimly.

  • Then she introduced her daughter to Drake and sent them adrift through the rooms.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • We'd be adrift and out of sight of land if Mary-'Gusta went away.


    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Have a civil tongue, then, and don't provoke me to turn you adrift on the world.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for adrift


adjective, adverb (postpositive)

floating without steering or mooring; drifting
without purpose; aimless
informal off course or amissthe project went adrift
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

Word Origin and History for adrift

1620s, from a- (1) "on" + drift. Figurative use by 1680s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper