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verb \ˈshift\

Simple Definition of shift

  • : to move or to cause (something or someone) to move to a different place, position, etc.

  • : to change or to cause (something) to change to a different opinion, belief, etc.

  • : to go or to cause (something) to go from one person or thing to another

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of shift

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to exchange for or replace by another :  change

  3. 2a :  to change the place, position, or direction of :  moveb :  to make a change in (place)

  4. 3 :  to change phonetically

  5. intransitive verb
  6. 1a :  to change place or positionb :  to change direction <the wind shifted>c :  to change gearsd :  to depress the shift key (as on a typewriter)

  7. 2a :  to assume responsibility <had to shift for themselves>b :  to resort to expedients

  8. 3a :  to go through a change <she shifted in her approach>b :  to change one's clothesc :  to become changed phonetically


play \ˈshif-tə-bəl\ adjective

shift gears

  1. :  to make a change

Examples of shift in a sentence

  1. I shifted the bag to my other shoulder.

  2. She shifted her position slightly so she could see the stage better.

  3. They shifted him to a different department.

  4. He nervously shifted from foot to foot.

  5. She shifted in her seat.

  6. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in recent months.

  7. Their efforts to shift public opinion have failed.

  8. I wanted to shift the discussion back to the main point.

  9. They tried to shift the blame onto us.

  10. Their attempts at shifting attention away from the controversy seemed to be working.

Origin and Etymology of shift

Middle English, from Old English sciftan to divide, arrange; akin to Old Norse skipa to arrange, assign

First Known Use: 13th century




Simple Definition of shift

  • : a change in position or direction

  • : a change in how something is done or how people think about something

  • : a group of people who work together during a scheduled period of time

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of shift

  1. 1a :  a means or device for effecting an endb (1) :  a deceitful or underhand scheme :  dodge (2) :  an effort or expedient exerted or tried in difficult circumstances :  extremity <was put to hard shifts for a living — Benjamin Franklin>

  2. 2a chiefly dialect :  a change of clothesb (1) chiefly dialect :  shirt (2) :  a woman's slip or chemise (3) :  a usually loose-fitting or semifitted dress

  3. 3a :  a change in direction <a shift in the wind>b :  a change in emphasis, judgment, or attitude

  4. 4a :  a group of people who work or occupy themselves in turn with other groupsb (1) :  a change of one group of people (as workers) for another in regular alternation (2) :  a scheduled period of work or duty <works the night shift>

  5. 5 :  a change in place or position: asa :  a change in the position of the hand on a fingerboard (as of a violin)b (1) :  fault 5 (2) :  the relative displacement of rock masses on opposite sides of a fault or fault zonec (1) :  a simultaneous change of position in football by two or more players from one side of the line to the other (2) :  a change of positions made by one or more players in baseball to provide better defense against a particular hitterd :  a change in frequency resulting in a change in position of a spectral line or band — compare doppler effecte :  a movement of bits in a computer register a specified number of places to the right or left

  6. 6 :  a removal from one person or thing to another :  transfer

  7. 7 :  consonant shift

  8. 8 :  a bid in bridge in a suit other than the suit one's partner has bid — compare jump

  9. 9 :  gearshift

Examples of shift in a sentence

  1. There will be a shift of responsibility when she takes the new position.

  2. a shift away from tradition

  3. a gradual shift toward more liberal policies

  4. a shift in voter opinion

  5. The day shift worked overtime.

  6. The restaurant needed only one shift for lunch.

  7. He works the day shift.


First Known Use of shift


Synonym Discussion of shift

resource, resort, expedient, shift, makeshift, stopgap mean something one turns to in the absence of the usual means or source of supply. resource and resort apply to anything one falls back upon <exhausted all of their resources> <a last resort>. expedient may apply to any device or contrivance used when the usual one is not at hand or not possible <a flimsy expedient>. shift implies a tentative or temporary imperfect expedient <desperate shifts to stave off foreclosure>. makeshift implies an inferior expedient adopted because of urgent need or allowed through indifference <old equipment employed as a makeshift>. stopgap applies to something used temporarily as an emergency measure <a new law intended only as a stopgap>.

SHIFT Defined for Kids



verb \ˈshift\

Definition of shift for Students



  1. 1 :  to change or make a change in place, position, or direction <He … shifted his pipe away from the talking side of his mouth … — Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy>

  2. 2 :  to go through a change <Public opinion shifted in his favor.>

  3. 3 :  to change the arrangement of gears transmitting power (as in an automobile)

  4. 4 :  to get along without help :  fend <I can shift for myself.>




Definition of shift for Students

  1. 1 :  a change in place, position, or direction <a shift in the wind>

  2. 2 :  a change in emphasis or attitude <a shift in priorities>

  3. 3 :  a group of workers who work together during a scheduled period of time

  4. 4 :  the scheduled period of time during which one group of workers is working

  5. 5 :  gearshift

Medical Dictionary


noun \ˈshift\

Medical Definition of shift

  1. :  a change in place, position, or frequency: asa:  a change in frequency resulting in a change in position of a spectral line or band—compare doppler effectb:  a removal or transfer from one thing or place to another—see chloride shift

Seen and Heard

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a sculptured or ornamented band

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