noun \ˈdrift\

: a slow and gradual movement or change from one place, condition, etc., to another

: a large pile of snow or sand that has been blown by the wind

: the general or basic meaning of something said or written

Full Definition of DRIFT

a :  the act of driving something along
b :  the flow or the velocity of the current of a river or ocean stream
:  something driven, propelled, or urged along or drawn together in a clump by or as if by a natural agency: as
a :  wind-driven snow, rain, cloud, dust, or smoke usually at or near the ground surface
b (1) :  a mass of matter (as sand) deposited together by or as if by wind or water
(2) :  a helter-skelter accumulation
c :  drove, flock
d :  something (as driftwood) washed ashore
e :  rock debris deposited by natural agents; specifically :  a deposit of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders transported by a glacier or by running water from a glacier
a :  a general underlying design or tendency <perceiving the drift of the government's policies>
b :  the underlying meaning, import, or purport of what is spoken or written <the drift of a conversation>
:  something (as a tool) driven down upon or forced into a body
:  the motion or action of drifting especially spatially and usually under external influence: as
a :  the lateral motion of an aircraft due to air currents
b :  an easy moderate more or less steady flow or sweep along a spatial course
c :  a gradual shift in attitude, opinion, or position
d :  an aimless course; especially :  a foregoing of any attempt at direction or control
e :  a deviation from a true reproduction, representation, or reading ; especially :  a gradual change in the zero reading of an instrument or in any quantitative characteristic that is supposed to remain constant
a :  a nearly horizontal mine passageway driven on or parallel to the course of a vein or rock stratum
b :  a small crosscut in a mine connecting two larger tunnels
a :  an assumed trend toward a general change in the structure of a language over a period of time
b :  genetic drift
:  a grouping of similar flowers planted in an elongated mass
drifty \ˈdrif-tē\ adjective

Examples of DRIFT

  1. the slow drift of the clouds
  2. As she got older, you could observe a drift in her writing towards more serious subjects.
  3. the government's drift towards a centralization of power

Origin of DRIFT

Middle English; akin to Old English drīfan to drive — more at drive
First Known Use: 14th century

Related to DRIFT

bar, 2bank, mound
See Synonym Discussion at tendency

Other Geology Terms

anthracite, boulder, cwm, erratic, igneous, intrusive, mesa, sedimentary, silt, swale

Rhymes with DRIFT



: to move slowly on water, wind, etc.

of snow or sand : to form a pile by being blown by the wind : to form a drift

: to move smoothly or easily in a way that is not planned or guided

Full Definition of DRIFT

intransitive verb
a :  to become driven or carried along (as by a current of water, wind, or air) <a balloon drifting in the wind>
b :  to move or float smoothly and effortlessly
a :  to move along a line of least resistance
b :  to move in a random or casual way
c :  to become carried along subject to no guidance or control <the talk drifted from topic to topic>
a :  to accumulate in a mass or become piled up in heaps by wind or water <drifting snow>
b :  to become covered with a drift
:  to vary or deviate from a set course or adjustment
transitive verb
a :  to cause to be driven in a current
b West :  to drive (livestock) slowly especially to allow grazing
a :  to pile in heaps
b :  to cover with drifts
drift·ing·ly \ˈdrif-tiŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of DRIFT

  1. The boat slowly drifted out to sea.
  2. The clouds drifted across the sky.
  3. The snow drifted against the side of the house.
  4. Drifting snow covered most of the car.
  5. The party guests drifted from room to room, eating and mingling.
  6. Her eyes drifted across the crowd.
  7. The conversation drifted from topic to topic.
  8. My thoughts drifted back to the time when we first met.
  9. After he left the army he just drifted for a few years.
  10. She drifted from job to job.

First Known Use of DRIFT

circa 1600


noun \ˈdrift\   (Medical Dictionary)

Medical Definition of DRIFT

:  movement of a tooth in the dental arch
drift intransitive verb
May 30, 2015
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