1

shift

verb \ ˈshift \
Updated on: 9 Dec 2017

Definition of shift

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

play \ˈshif-tə-bəl\ adjective
shift gears
: to make a change

Examples of shift in a Sentence

  1. I shifted the bag to my other shoulder.

  2. She shifted her position slightly so she could see the stage better.

  3. They shifted him to a different department.

  4. He nervously shifted from foot to foot.

  5. She shifted in her seat.

  6. Public opinion has shifted dramatically in recent months.

  7. Their efforts to shift public opinion have failed.

  8. I wanted to shift the discussion back to the main point.

  9. They tried to shift the blame onto us.

  10. Their attempts at shifting attention away from the controversy seemed to be working.

Recent Examples of shift from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of shift

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


2

shift

noun

Definition of shift

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 living
  • —Benjamin 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) : fault 5
(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 a specified number of places to the right or left
6 : a removal from one person or thing to another : transfer
8 : a bid in bridge in a suit other than the suit one's partner has bid — compare jump
9 : gearshift

Examples of shift in a Sentence

  1. There will be a shift of responsibility when she takes the new position.

  2. a shift away from tradition

  3. a gradual shift toward more liberal policies

  4. a shift in voter opinion

  5. The day shift worked overtime.

  6. The restaurant needed only one shift for lunch.

  7. He works the day shift.

Recent Examples of shift from the Web

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

First Known Use of shift

1523

Synonym Discussion of 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


SHIFT Defined for English Language Learners

shift

verb

Definition of shift for English Language Learners

  • : to move or to cause (something or someone) to move to a different place, position, etc.

  • : to change or to cause (something) to change to a different opinion, belief, etc.

  • : to go or to cause (something) to go from one person or thing to another


shift

noun

Definition of shift for English Language Learners

  • : a change in position or direction

  • : a change in how something is done or how people think about something

  • : a group of people who work together during a scheduled period of time


SHIFT Defined for Kids

1

shift

verb \ ˈshift \

Definition of shift for Students

shifted; shifting
1 : to change or make a change in place, position, or direction
  • He … shifted his pipe away from the talking side of his mouth …
  • —Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy
2 : to go through a change
  • Public opinion shifted in his favor.
3 : to change the arrangement of gears transmitting power (as in an automobile)
4 : to get along without help : fend
  • I can shift for myself.

2

shift

noun

Definition of shift for Students

1 : a change in place, position, or direction
  • a shift in the wind
2 : a change in emphasis or attitude
  • a shift in priorities
3 : a group of workers who work together during a scheduled period of time
4 : the scheduled period of time during which one group of workers is working
5 : gearshift

Medical Dictionary

shift

noun \ ˈshift \

medical Definition of shift

: 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


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