[ rangk-shift ]
/ ˈræŋkˌʃɪft /

verb (used with object)

(in systemic linguistics) to use a unit as a constituent of another unit of the same or lower rank on the rank scale, as in using the phrase next door within the phrase the boy next door or the clause that you met yesterday within the phrase the girl that you met yesterday.


the process of rankshifting.

Origin of rankshift

First recorded in 1960–65; rank1 + shift
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rankshift

/ (ˈræŋkˌʃɪft) in systemic grammar /


a phenomenon in which a unit at one rank in the grammar has the function of a unit at a lower rank, as for example in the phrase the house on the corner, where the words on the corner shift down from the rank of group to the rank of word


to shift or be shifted from one linguistic rank to another
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