shift

1 of 2

verb

shifted; shifting; shifts

transitive verb

1
: to exchange for or replace by another : change
2
a
: to change the place, position, or direction of : move
b
: to make a change in (place)
3
: to change phonetically

intransitive verb

1
a
: to change place or position
b
: to change direction
the wind shifted
c
: to change gears
d
: to depress the shift key (as on a typewriter)
2
a
: to assume responsibility
had to shift for themselves
b
: to resort to expedients
3
a
: to go through a change
she shifted in her approach
b
: to change one's clothes
c
: to become changed phonetically
shiftable adjective

shift

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a means or device for effecting an end
b(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 livingBenjamin Franklin
2
a
chiefly dialectal : a change of clothes
b(1)
chiefly dialectal : shirt
(2)
: a woman's slip or chemise
(3)
: a usually loose-fitting or semifitted dress
3
a
: a change in direction
a shift in the wind
b
: a change in emphasis, judgment, or attitude
4
a
: a group of people who work or occupy themselves in turn with other groups
b(1)
: a change of one group of people (such as workers) for another in regular alternation
(2)
: a scheduled period of work or duty
works the night shift
5
: a change in place or position: such as
a
: a change in the position of the hand on a fingerboard (as of a violin)
b(1)
(2)
: the relative displacement of rock masses on opposite sides of a fault or fault zone
c(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 hitter
d
: a change in frequency resulting in a change in position of a spectral line or band compare doppler effect
e
: a movement of bits in a computer register (see register entry 1 sense 9) a specified number of places to the right or left
6
: a removal from one person or thing to another : transfer
7
8
: a bid in bridge in a suit other than the suit one's partner has bid compare jump
9
Phrases
shift gears
: to make a change
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of shift in a Sentence

Verb I shifted the bag to my other shoulder. She shifted her position slightly so she could see the stage better. They shifted him to a different department. He nervously shifted from foot to foot. She shifted in her seat. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in recent months. Their efforts to shift public opinion have failed. I wanted to shift the discussion back to the main point. They tried to shift the blame onto us. Their attempts at shifting attention away from the controversy seemed to be working. Noun There will be a shift of responsibility when she takes the new position. a shift away from tradition a gradual shift toward more liberal policies a shift in voter opinion The day shift worked overtime. The restaurant needed only one shift for lunch. He works the day shift. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
The paper mill is gone now, the steel mill is about to close, and many of the oil refineries are shifting to renewable energy. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 BlackRock withdrew as a corporate member and shifted its participation to BlackRock International a few weeks ago, the asset management firm said in a note. Amanda Gerut, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 For one, many brands have shifted from relying on wholesalers and distributors to focusing more on their own direct-to-consumer sales, à la Apple. Dan Kahn, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 But after last year’s 8-5 disappointment, Riley wants to start shifting the philosophy toward high school recruiting. Thuc Nhi Nguyen, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Trending on Billboard Check it out… Just shy of his 25th anniversary at Atlantic Records, veteran legal executive Michael Kushner is shifting over to parent company Warner Music Group to be the label giant’s new senior vp, deputy general counsel of business and legal affairs. Marc Schneider, Billboard, 16 Feb. 2024 Ferrara’s de facto framing device features Smith, backed by projections of abstract images like shifting landscapes, delivering an impassioned spoken-word performance set to heavy, intoxicating strings. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 16 Feb. 2024 These days, the kindest month also has shifted from August to June. Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The baffle box construction prevents shifting and ensures even distribution of warmth. Kayla Kitts, Peoplemag, 15 Feb. 2024
Noun
Specifically generative AI allows a major shift in how cities plan, decide and design: From reactive to proactive: Shift from fixing problems to predicting and preventing them. Timothy Papandreou, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 This cultural shift has been spurred by a growing unease in tech circles, as economic and geopolitical threats collide. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2024 Other issues Besides wage increases and insurance policy changes, teachers want more funding for student mental health support services and more support for restorative practices — a shift away from traditional discipline like suspensions and moving toward an emphasis on community building. Alex Derosier, Twin Cities, 16 Feb. 2024 The January numbers reflected a shift in seasonal spending trends, not necessarily the macroeconomic climate, Dutch bank ING’s economist James Smith warned. Byprarthana Prakash, Fortune Europe, 16 Feb. 2024 This shift in weather is likely due to south winds bringing in warmer air and preventing the cold air from lingering. David Montesino, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 Feb. 2024 The supervisor, who is not named in the synopsis and whose name is redacted in Luna’s response, also violated city policy by reporting weekend shifts as call-back overtime, which applies only when an employee who has completed a regular shift is unexpectedly called back to work after leaving. Dillon Mullan, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 With Patek’s latest hikes now effective across all model lines and regions, only time will tell how the shift effects its year-end results. Demetrius Simms, Robb Report, 5 Feb. 2024 This shift emphasizes the importance of state-level legislation and governance. Gillian Brassil, Sacramento Bee, 5 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of shift was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near shift

Cite this Entry

“Shift.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shift. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

shift

1 of 2 verb
1
: to exchange for another of the same kind
2
a
: to change the place, position, or direction of
b
: to make a change in place, position, or direction
the wind shifted
c
: to change the gear rotating the transmission shaft of an automobile
3
: to get along without help : fend
left the others to shift for themselves

shift

2 of 2 noun
1
: a means or device for getting something done
2
3
: the act of shifting
4
: a group of workers who work together during a scheduled period of time
also : the period of time during which they work
5

Medical Definition

shift

noun
: a change in place, position, or frequency: as
a
: a change in frequency resulting in a change in position of a spectral line or band compare doppler effect
b
: a removal or transfer from one thing or place to another see chloride shift

More from Merriam-Webster on shift

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