adverb or adjective

: without motive power and without anchor or mooring
a boat adrift on the sea
: without ties, guidance, or security
people morally adrift
: free from restraint or support

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Odell’s ideas gallop between twentieth-century time studies and ancient Chinese water clocks, Amazonian factory floors and Zoom rooms set adrift, mastery journals, Mojave poetry, second shifts, segregated leisure, Ice Age sea floors and present-day climate crisis. Gabriela Riccardi, Quartz, 22 Mar. 2023 But how did that material wind up adrift in the first place? Leslie Nemo, Discover Magazine, 1 Oct. 2019 Off Yemen, bomb-laden drone boats and mines set adrift by Yemen's Houthi rebels have damaged vessels amid that country's yearslong war. Jon Gambrell, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adrift.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of adrift was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near adrift

Cite this Entry

“Adrift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


adverb or adjective
: without power or anchor
a ship adrift in the storm
: without guidance or purpose
alone and adrift in the city
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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