[ drif-ter ]
/ ˈdrɪf tər /


a person or thing that drifts.
a person who goes from place to place, job to job, etc., remaining in each for a short period.
Also called drift boat. a boat used in fishing with a drift net.

Nearby words

  1. drift netter,
  2. drift transistor,
  3. drift tube,
  4. driftage,
  5. driftbolt,
  6. driftfish,
  7. drifting cloud, the,
  8. driftless area,
  9. driftpin,
  10. driftwood

Origin of drifter

First recorded in 1860–65; drift + -er1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for drifter

British Dictionary definitions for drifter


/ (ˈdrɪftə) /


a person or thing that drifts
a person who moves aimlessly from place to place, usually without a regular job
a boat used for drift-net fishing
nautical a large jib of thin material used in light breezes
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 drifter



1864, as a mining term; 1883, "boat fishing with drift-nets;" agent noun from drift (v.). Meaning "vagrant" is from 1908.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper