shift

verb
\ ˈshift How to pronounce shift (audio) \
shifted; shifting; shifts

Definition of shift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

1a : 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)
2a : to assume responsibility had to shift for themselves
b : to resort to expedients
3a : to go through a change she shifted in her approach
b : to change one's clothes
c : to become changed phonetically
shift gears
: to make a change

shift

noun

Definition of shift (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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
2a 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
3a : a change in direction a shift in the wind
b : a change in emphasis, judgment, or attitude
4a : 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 sense 4
(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
8 : a bid in bridge in a suit other than the suit one's partner has bid — compare jump
9 : gearshift

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shift

Verb

shiftable \ ˈshif-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce shiftable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for shift

Noun

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

No one figured out how to stop the Dutchman from shifting the ball on to his left foot from the right wing and curling goal after goal into the far corner. SI.com, "Arjen Robben: The Flying Dutchman Who Became a Modern Legend at Bayern Munich," 16 Sep. 2019 And the tackling and ability to cover man to man has been upgraded by shifting veteran corner Bradley Roby from outside corner to nickel. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Texans upbeat about Bradley Roby, Lonnie Johnson corner combination," 16 Sep. 2019 Their revolution is the capitalist kind: progress by way of shifting demographics, reinforcement of the corporate status quo. Adam Wilson, Harper's magazine, "Good Bad Bad Good," 16 Sep. 2019 Scafaria says, while Lopez recalls potential distributors wanting to make the tale more accessible, by shifting the focus away from the feminine energy of the central relationships and onto their transgressions. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Bad mother-Hustlers: How Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu fell head over (nine-inch) heels for each other," 12 Sep. 2019 By shifting that engine into first gear, the administration could do a lot to help bolster the democratic forces in the region and put further pressure on Beijing. Therese Shaheen, National Review, "The Need to Clarify and Strengthen Our Relationship with Taiwan," 11 Sep. 2019 At the same time, gig-economy work has proved lucrative for employers, who can save as much as 20% of their costs by shifting to contract workers, as noted by a 2016 UCLA paper. CBS News, "California approves bill that will turn gig workers into employees," 11 Sep. 2019 In addition to shifting the gender pay gap, the game's famous properties will be replaced by innovations created by women. Alyssa Newcomb, NBC News, "Chick magnate? Hasbro debuts 'Ms. Monopoly' game, where women run the show," 10 Sep. 2019 Essentially, the Ryzen 3000 processor responds to demands for additional performance by shifting into its overclocked boost mode. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "AMD issues updated BIOS to fix Ryzen boost bug, promising up to 50MHz more boost," 10 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And the region's warming waters are already causing fish population shifts, with the consequences not yet fully understood. Keith Matheny, Freep.com, "Climate change transforming where fish in the Great Lakes region live," 16 Sep. 2019 But these perceptions overlook how other factors, like immigration and economic shifts, altered the way this city, area and state looks. Sameer Rao, baltimoresun.com, "See Baltimore’s Asian American past and future converge at the Charm City Night Market," 16 Sep. 2019 Now the focus shifts to the governor, who has until Oct. 13 to review hundreds of bills sitting on his desk and decide whether to sign or veto them. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California housing, guns, criminal justice reform: Focus shifts to Gavin Newsom," 15 Sep. 2019 In uncertain times like now, facing unprecedented policy shifts, in any study economists much make myriad assumptions about how multiple factors interact. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Time to explain the basics of trade," 15 Sep. 2019 Biologists have noticed a distinct diet shift, with perch foraging on invertebrates such as spiny water fleas and midge and mayfly larvae instead of emerald shiner minnows and other small fish. D'arcy Egan, cleveland.com, "Lake Erie walleye fishing ‘Golden Era’ officially returns with record catches, big hatches," 13 Sep. 2019 With the seasonal shift, what better time to change some habits and develop new ones? Kara Stevens, Essence, "5 Tips To Make September Your Financial 'Self-Care' Month," 13 Sep. 2019 To deduce its value, Hessels and colleagues had to measure the Lamb shift: the difference between hydrogen’s first and second excited energy levels, called the 2S and 2P states. Quanta Magazine, "Physicists Finally Nail the Proton’s Size, and Hope Dies," 11 Sep. 2019 Cornell University’s residential two-year MBA is aimed at those who are trying to make a significant career shift, either in function, industry, or both. Emilia Benton, Houston Chronicle, "MBAs help professionals advance, branch out careers," 6 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of shift

Verb

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

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shift

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shift

Dictionary Entries near shift

shieling

shier

shiest

shift

shiftability

shift bid

shift boss

Statistics for shift

Last Updated

10 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shift

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shift

shift

verb

English Language Learners Definition of shift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

English Language Learners Definition of shift (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

verb
\ ˈshift How to pronounce shift (audio) \
shifted; shifting

Kids Definition of shift

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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.

shift

noun

Kids Definition of shift (Entry 2 of 2)

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

shift

noun
\ ˈshift How to pronounce shift (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shift

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shift

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shift

Spanish Central: Translation of shift

Nglish: Translation of shift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shift for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shift

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

WORD OF THE DAY

transposition of initial sounds of words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Word Puzzles

  • alt 57589b2b4c6a3
  • Which answer pairs best with each of the following words? living, estate, club, music, road, mile
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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