\ ə-ˈdrift \

Definition of adrift

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

Examples of adrift in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

An Indonesian teenager has been rescued from the ocean after spending 49 days adrift at sea. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Indonesian Teenager Rescued After 49 Days Adrift At Sea," 24 Sep. 2018 The European Union’s statistics agency lowered its estimate for eurozone third-quarter growth to 0.6% from 0.7% on Friday, leaving it further adrift of the U.S. economy, which grew at a 3.5% during the same period. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "Eurozone Economy Grew More Slowly Than Previously Estimated," 7 Dec. 2018 Tan, who wrote the screenplay for the original Shirkers and starred in it, was left adrift, angry and confused. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Netflix’s Shirkers is a punk feminist documentary gem," 26 Oct. 2018 The Indonesian teenager has survived about 7 weeks adrift at sea after the floating wooden fish trap he was employed to mind slipped its moorings. Ali Kotarumalos, Fox News, "Indonesian teenager rescued after drifting 7 weeks at sea," 24 Sep. 2018 The setup is riveting: four affluent Australian friends on a yachting holiday in the Timor Sea come across, in the distance, a fishing boat adrift and overloaded with refugees. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Which of These New TV International Thrillers Should You Binge?," 30 Aug. 2018 The groups said a cargo ship picked up the migrants—including people from South Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Somalia—adrift in the Mediterranean Sea and brought them to the coastal Libyan city of Misrata, east of Tripoli, on Nov. 10. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Migrants Rescued by Cargo Ship Refuse to Get Off in Libya," 19 Nov. 2018 That leaves the Gulf Cooperation Council adrift at a time of regional tension. Washington Post, "Analysis: Qatar crisis widens fissures among US allies," 5 June 2018 It will be cast adrift into the silent blackness of space. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA is about to turn off the Kepler spacecraft, and it will drift away," 30 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adrift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of adrift

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adrift

a- entry 1 + drift entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about adrift

Statistics for adrift

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for adrift

The first known use of adrift was in 1578

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for adrift



English Language Learners Definition of adrift

of a boat : floating on the water without being tied to anything or controlled by anyone

: without guidance, purpose, or support

: behind by a specified amount in a race, competition, etc.

\ ə-ˈdrift \

Kids Definition of adrift

: in a drifting state a ship adrift in the storm Boats floated adrift.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on adrift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with adrift

Spanish Central: Translation of adrift

Nglish: Translation of adrift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of adrift for Arabic Speakers

Comments on adrift

What made you want to look up adrift? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!