drift·​er ˈdrif-tər How to pronounce drifter (audio)
: one that drifts
especially : one that travels or moves about aimlessly

Examples of drifter in a Sentence

He was a drifter who hitchhiked from state to state. the drifter just packed up and moved on to the next dead-end job
Recent Examples on the Web Pulled from his drifter lifestyle, Reacher reunites with three of his former teammates (played by Maria Sten, Serinda Swan and Shaun Sipos), who begin to connect the dots in a mystery where the stakes get higher at every turn, bringing about questions of who has betrayed them. Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Nov. 2023 Schnabel, son of Oscar nominated director Julian Schnabel, tells the story of two young men falling down a rabbit hole of rebellious desire – one running from a traumatic incident and a bitter authoritarian father, the other a privileged drifter in search of himself. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 17 Aug. 2023 Fusing cinematic technique with investigative journalism and activism with art, Morris dissected the troubling case of Randall Dale Adams, a drifter who was charged with the 1976 murder of a Dallas police officer. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2023 The latter forms a connection to a drifter (Trevante Rhodes) who’s connected to Anderson’s character’s past. Cori Murray, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2023 Johnson, a drifter and ex-convict, was 24 when the murder took place, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nicole Acosta, Peoplemag, 24 Apr. 2023 That song is a drifter song, a song about regret, about the different deferred dreams of everyone in this town. Lily Moayeri, Variety, 1 Mar. 2023 The couple had spent their life doing humanitarian work in rugged countries like Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Haiti, only to be murdered a year into their retirement on a hiking trail near Interstate 393, allegedly by a drifter with a gun purchased illegally in Vermont. Dugan Arnett, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Nov. 2022 Their compulsive passions are interrupted by a suicide bombing in the placid suburb; Médéric and Isadora’s entanglement is then complicated by her possessive husband, Gérard (Renaud Rutten), and a young Muslim drifter, Selim (Iliés Kadri), who might be a terrorist. Armond White, National Review, 21 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'drifter.' 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

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of drifter was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near drifter

Cite this Entry

“Drifter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drifter. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


drift·​er ˈdrif-tər How to pronounce drifter (audio)
: one that drifts
especially : a person who travels about without purpose

More from Merriam-Webster on drifter

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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