\ ˈshif-tē How to pronounce shifty (audio) \
shiftier; shiftiest

Definition of shifty

1 : full of or ready with expedients : resourceful
2a : given to deception, evasion, or fraud : tricky
b : capable of evasive movement : elusive a shifty boxer
3 : indicative of a tricky nature shifty eyes

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Other Words from shifty

shiftily \ ˈshif-​tə-​lē How to pronounce shiftily (audio) \ adverb
shiftiness \ ˈshif-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce shiftiness (audio) \ noun

Examples of shifty in a Sentence

shifty politicians making deals to channel federal funds into their districts shifty practices such as turning back the odometers on used cars

Recent Examples on the Web

There is the shifty owner of the industrial park where Mark’s life takes a turn for the (even) worse. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: San Diego has a dark role in a new noir novel by Patrick Coleman," 12 Aug. 2019 The Vikings, though, want to be more run-oriented, hoping to rely on Blount transfer Edrick Houston, as well as at least four other backs — two who can run straight ahead and two who are shifty. Arthur L. Mack, al, "Mary G. Montgomery hoping to continue progress in Stan McCain’s second season," 7 Aug. 2019 Colorado uses the shifty and hard-to-tackle Shenault all over the field, at wildcat running back, inside and outside. Kalyn Kahler,, "Why the 2020 NFL Draft Class of Wide Receivers Is Worthy of Your Attention," 10 July 2019 With a 94 speed rating, 95 agility and 85 elusiveness, Jackson is already one of the shiftiest ballcarriers in the game. Dan Gartland,, "A ‘Madden 20’ Glitch Makes Lamar Jackson More Unstoppable Than Michael Vick," 29 July 2019 The problem with this sort of navigation is that wind currents are shifty things. Alex Davies, WIRED, "How Loon's Balloons Find Their Way to Deliver the Internet," 23 July 2019 There’s something eerie in the constant assertion of Tony Stark as Tycoon SuperJesus — but don’t underestimate the shifty layers of the final act. Joey Nolfi,, "From Spider-Man to Midsommar, 10 movies to see this Fourth of July weekend," 5 July 2019 But there’s a glint in the eye that betrays some shifty secrets. Angela Hill, The Mercury News, "John Law, iconic Bay Area prankster, now has his own ‘art’ show," 5 July 2019 Among those also showing interest in the 5-foot-10, 200-pound shifty runner were Louisville, Cincinnati, Toledo, Western Michigan and Akron. Scott Springer,, "Lakota West running back David Afari commits to Miami RedHawks football," 28 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shifty.' 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 shifty

circa 1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for shifty

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for shifty

The first known use of shifty was circa 1570

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More Definitions for shifty



English Language Learners Definition of shifty

: having an appearance or way of behaving that seems dishonest
US : difficult to catch : able to move and change directions quickly


\ ˈshif-tē How to pronounce shifty (audio) \
shiftier; shiftiest

Kids Definition of shifty

: not worthy of trust : causing suspicion a shifty character

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More from Merriam-Webster on shifty

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shifty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shifty

Spanish Central: Translation of shifty

Nglish: Translation of shifty for Spanish Speakers

Comments on shifty

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


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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