drift·​er | \ ˈdrif-tər How to pronounce drifter (audio) \

Definition of drifter

: one that drifts especially : one that travels or moves about aimlessly

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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 Beijing drifters are masters at hustling around bureaucratic obstacles. The Economist, "China’s discriminatory hukou system plagues white-collar workers, too," 12 Dec. 2019 Public records suggest that Selovich has roots in Missouri but has lived his adult life as a drifter. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "A man named Pirate left a history of violent rape charges in his wake, but made it back to Fairbanks anyway," 6 Dec. 2019 Profane Sister Sara recruits a drifter to help Mexican rebels attack a French fort. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019," 22 Sep. 2019 So the study authors used computational modelling to simulate ocean currents in Cape Cod Bay, and supplemented those results with data collected through drifters, or instruments that can be tracked via satellite. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Why Do ‘Cold-Shocked’ Sea Turtles Keep Washing Up Onto Cape Cod?," 11 Dec. 2019 The song, about homeless people trying to keep their spirits up, reminded them of the world outside their window in Spitalfields in east London, then a warren of derelict houses populated by drunks and drifters. The Economist, "Grave hopping with Gilbert & George," 15 Nov. 2019 The genre-bending western focuses on a drifter who finds redemption with a hardscrabble frontier woman and her young daughter, only to see his dream of happiness jeopardized when brute mercenaries show up at his door. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, "Danny McBride's Rough House, Mainstay to Tackle 'The Sun Always Sets in the West' for Lionsgate (Exclusive)," 1 Nov. 2019 Keith Smith claimed his wife, 54-year-old Jacquelyn Smith, was fatally stabbed in December by an East Baltimore panhandler after Jacquelyn had just handed $10 to a female drifter who appeared to be holding a baby. Fox News, "Baltimore man who blamed wife's murder on panhandler set for trial in her killing after daughter pleads guilty," 7 Oct. 2019 Oceanographer Tom Weingartner figured that yellow drifter had hitched a ride on an ice floe and sailed north. Anchorage Daily News, "Plastic discs released in the ’70s by a scientist off Alaska’s northern coast keep returning home," 30 Nov. 2019

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

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First Known Use of drifter

1897, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for drifter

Time Traveler

The first known use of drifter was in 1897

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Statistics for drifter

Last Updated

4 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Drifter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/drifter. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for drifter


How to pronounce drifter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of drifter

: a person who moves from one place or job to another without a purpose or plan

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More from Merriam-Webster on drifter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for drifter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with drifter

Spanish Central: Translation of drifter

Nglish: Translation of drifter for Spanish Speakers

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