a temporary expedient or substitute: We used boxes as a makeshift while the kitchen chairs were being painted.


Also make·shift·y. serving as, or of the nature of, a makeshift.

Origin of makeshift

First recorded in 1555–65; noun, adj. use of verb phrase make shift

Synonyms for makeshift Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for makeshift

Contemporary Examples of makeshift

Historical Examples of makeshift

  • "A makeshift budget" was introduced by Mr. Disraeli and passed.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • It was a makeshift barometer, the advertising gift of a yeast company.

  • It was a slovenly word, a makeshift for the hard broom of clean thought.

    The Rough Road

    William John Locke

  • And Merrie England swarms with makeshift folk and breakdowns.

    A Poor Man's House

    Stephen Sydney Reynolds

  • Those visits, between 1889 and 1905 were only occasional, a makeshift.

British Dictionary definitions for makeshift



serving as a temporary or expedient means, esp during an emergency


something serving in this capacity
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 makeshift

also make-shift, 1560s, as a noun, "shifty person, rogue," from make (v.) + shift (v.). Adjectival sense of "substitute" is first recorded 1680s. Cf. make-sport "a laughing stock" (1610s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper