- a driving movement or force; impulse; impetus; pressure.
- Navigation. (of a ship) the component of the movement that is due to the force of wind and currents.
- Oceanography. a broad, shallow ocean current that advances at the rate of 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 km) a day.
- the flow or the speed in knots of an ocean current.
- the distance between the end of a rope and the part in use.
- the distance between two blocks in a tackle.
- the difference in diameter between two parts, one of which fits within the other, as a mast and its mast hoops, or a treenail and its hole.
- Aeronautics. the deviation of an aircraft from a set course due to cross winds.
- the course along which something moves; tendency; aim: The drift of political events after the war was toward chaos.
- a meaning; intent; purport: the drift of a statement.
- something driven, as animals, rain, etc.
- a heap of any matter driven together.
- a snowdrift.
- Geology. glacial drift.
- the state or process of being driven.
- overbearing power or influence.
- Military. a tool used in charging an ordnance piece.
- a gradual change in some operating characteristic of a circuit, tube, or other electronic device, either during a brief period as an effect of warming up or during a long period as an effect of continued use.
- the movement of charge carriers in a semiconductor due to the influence of an applied voltage.
- Linguistics. gradual change in the structure of a language.
- Civil Engineering. a secondary tunnel between two main tunnels or shafts.
- Mining. an approximately horizontal passageway in underground mining.
- Physics. the movement of charged particles under the influence of an electric field.
- Aerospace. the gradual deviation of a rocket or guided missile from its intended trajectory.
- Mechanics. displacement of the gimbals of a gyroscope due to friction on bearings, unbalance of the gyroscope's mass or other imperfections.
- the thrust of an arched structure.
- Dentistry. a shift of the teeth from their normal position in the dental arch.
- Western U.S. a flock of animals or birds.
- to be carried along by currents of water or air, or by the force of circumstances.
- to wander aimlessly: He drifts from town to town.
- to be driven into heaps, as by the wind: drifting sand.
- to deviate or vary from a set course or adjustment.
- to carry along: The current drifted the boat to sea.
- to drive into heaps: The wind drifted the snow.
- to enlarge (a punched or drilled hole) with a drift.
- to align or straighten (holes, especially rivet holes) with a drift.
- drift off, to fall asleep gradually.
Origin of drift
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordstendency, progression, hover, stray, linger, dance, flit, ride, float, flow, waft, flutter, wash, slide, sail, meander, amble, wander, stroll, mountain
Examples from the Web for drift
Things can drift over time and you can find yourself very far away from shore when you thought you were quite close to the beach.Michael Sheen’s Masterful Study of Sex and Insecurity
September 28, 2014
The mother continues to row frantically, but the boat begins to drift slowly downstream.Whatever You Do Someone Will Die. A Short Story About Impossible Choices in Iraq
Nathan Bradley Bethea
August 31, 2014
Everyone will laugh, the word “nerd” will be used affectionately, and the conversation will drift on.Self-Tracking for N00bz
Jamie Todd Rubin
July 24, 2014
They, quite predictably, fall in love, and then drift apart.Life After ‘SVU’: Christopher Meloni on ‘They Came Together,’ Stabler, and His Famous Behind
June 21, 2014
Now there was a way to obtain old music that the record companies had allowed to drift out of print.15 Years After Napster: How the Music Service Changed the Industry
June 6, 2014
As they walked single-file through the narrowing of a drift, she wondered about him.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.
I was now ashore, with two or three months of drift before me.Ned Myers
James Fenimore Cooper
They were, however, superior to the drift men, and had some notion of art.English Villages
P. H. Ditchfield
But what her eyes met caused the color to drift from her face.Gloria and Treeless Street
Annie Hamilton Donnell
- (also tr) to be carried along by or as if by currents of air or water or (of a current) to carry (a vessel, etc) along
- to move aimlessly from place to place or from one activity to another
- to wander or move gradually away from a fixed course or point; stray
- (also tr) (of snow, sand, etc) to accumulate in heaps or banks or to drive (snow, sand, etc) into heaps or banks
- something piled up by the wind or current, such as a snowdrift
- tendency, trend, meaning, or purportthe drift of the argument
- a state of indecision or inaction
- the extent to which a vessel, aircraft, projectile, etc is driven off its course by adverse winds, tide, or current
- a general tendency of surface ocean water to flow in the direction of the prevailing windsNorth Atlantic Drift
- a driving movement, force, or influence; impulse
- a controlled four-wheel skid, used by racing drivers to take bends at high speed
- a loose unstratified deposit of sand, gravel, etc, esp one transported and deposited by a glacier or ice sheet
- a horizontal passage in a mine that follows the mineral vein
- something, esp a group of animals, driven along by human or natural agenciesa drift of cattle
- Also called: driftpin a tapering steel tool driven into holes to enlarge or align them before bolting or riveting
- an uncontrolled slow change in some operating characteristic of a piece of equipment, esp an electronic circuit or component
- linguistics gradual change in a language, esp in so far as this is influenced by the internal structure of the language rather than by contact with other languages
- Southern African a ford
- engineering a copper or brass bar used as a punch
Word Origin and History for drift
c.1300, literally "a being driven" (of snow, etc.); not recorded in Old English; either a suffixed form of drive (v.) (cf. thrift/thrive) or borrowed from Old Norse drift "snow drift," or Middle Dutch drift "pasturage, drove, flock," both from Proto-Germanic *driftiz (cf. Danish and Swedish drift, German Trift), from PIE root *dhreibh- "to drive, push" (see drive (v.)). Sense of "what one is getting at" is from 1520s. Meaning "controlled slide of a sports car" attested by 1955.
late 16c., from drift (n.). Figurative sense of "be passive and listless" is from 1822. Related: Drifted; drifting.
- A gradual deviation from an original course, model, method, or intention.
- Movement of teeth from their normal position in the dental arch because of the loss of contiguous teeth.
- genetic drift
- A variation or random oscillation about a fixed setting, position, or mode of behavior.
Idioms and Phrases with drift
see get the drift.