shift

verb
\ ˈshift \
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 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 (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

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Other Words from shift

Verb

shiftable \ ˈshif-​tə-​bəl \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

What’s shifted most is the smartphone’s monolithic status as the device that software companies and businesses needed to reach mobile users—and for consumers to access their services. Sarah Krouse, WSJ, "The Big Hangup: Why the Future Is Not Just Your Phone," 12 Jan. 2019 And shifting tastes at home have further changed the outlook for traditional cheese makers. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: The NAACP’s weeklong boycott of Facebook and Instagram begins today," 18 Dec. 2018 The phase before menopause, called perimenopause, can last for several years as hormone levels begin gradually shifting, according to ACOG. Amy Marturana, SELF, "12 Causes of Spotting and Breakthrough Bleeding," 28 Dec. 2018 Trust in Google has shifted a little, and now it’s on the executives running the company to prevent the wave. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Google," 26 Dec. 2018 Foster speculates that the royals are banking the news coverage will shift to discuss the new royal baby (and hopefully back to positive coverage). Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "The Ultimate Guide to the Royal Family," 19 Dec. 2018 Over the many years, its main purpose has shifted: it has been used as an administration office, a prison, a mental asylum, and a youth hostel. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Touring Germany’s Most Festive Christmas Markets," 18 Dec. 2018 The Post’s Colby Itkowitz explained that the timing of the ruling comes as public opinion on the ACA has shifted toward the Democrats. Timothy Bella, The Seattle Times, "‘Republicans will never stop’: Obama rips GOP after Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional," 17 Dec. 2018 New rental housing construction has shifted to higher-cost units. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Elizabeth Warren doubles down on affordable housing legislation," 11 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The weather on the East Coast has been temperate, but the palpable shift in season hit me like a Nor’easter storm. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "A Culture Editor's Impulse Buys: $200 of Potions, Swedish Sweets, and More," 7 Jan. 2019 Quinn said there are about 20 of these quality control specialists on each shift. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Bikes, bowling balls, and the delicate balancing act that is modern recycling," 31 Dec. 2018 Among other shifts, CNN cited upstart computer maker Compaq buying the venerable Digital Equipment Corporation. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The biggest video games, tech news, and apocalyptic anxieties of 1998," 29 Dec. 2018 On top of that, millennials are now more critical of capitalism than ever, and the end result of these shifts is that the U.S. is becoming increasingly class conscious. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "What the "Working Class" Is, and How It's Politicized," 13 Dec. 2018 Sales of the Cruze sedan, the model made at the Lordstown plant, have declined for years, and shifts at the factory had gradually been cut over the last few years, from three a day to just one. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "When towns lose a factory, what comes next?," 29 Nov. 2018 According to the employee, its staff is overworked and a little stressed out by the 12-hour shifts and the considerable responsibilities. BostonGlobe.com, "A migrant child’s days in detention included cleaning toilets," 14 July 2018 The new clinic would employ 33 people, with 23 people working per shift. Jeff Rumage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Sendik's building in Shorewood could become medical clinic," 13 July 2018 This over-the-top espionage thriller gives her a chance to show off the humor, intelligence and fast emotional shifts that earned her five supporting nominations (but no win) back in the days of Grey’s. Tom Gilatto, PEOPLE.com, "Emmy Nominations 2018: PEOPLE's Critic Breaks Down All the Nods — and Predicts Some Winners," 12 July 2018

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.

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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

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Learn More about shift

Dictionary Entries near shift

shieling

shier

shiest

shift

shiftability

shift bid

shift boss

Statistics for shift

Last Updated

17 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shift

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

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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 \
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 \

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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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

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