shift·​less | \ ˈshif(t)-ləs How to pronounce shiftless (audio) \

Definition of shiftless

1 : lacking in resourcefulness : inefficient
2 : lacking in ambition or incentive : lazy shiftless freeloaders

Other Words from shiftless

shiftlessly adverb
shiftlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shiftless



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of shiftless in a Sentence

shiftless spongers who never thought to do anything for themselves
Recent Examples on the Web Their anger focused on a faceless government that neglected people like them and on supposedly shiftless immigrants and minorities who feasted at the public trough. Helen Epstein, The New York Review of Books, 10 Mar. 2020 Stereotypes of unemployed, shiftless man-children playing X-Box in their parents’ basement aren’t really borne out by the data. Matt Levin, The Mercury News, 27 Aug. 2019 Among them was Boy (2010), a poignant coming-of-age dramedy about a kid whose obsession with Michael Jackson offers him an escape from dealing with his shiftless father. Aja Romano, Vox, 31 Oct. 2018 Last year, Buffalo Wild Wings expressed concern about millennials, and what those shiftless kids could do to the chicken-wing-and-plasma-screen trade. Jason Gay, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2018 Or the shiftless pool man whose slide into despair seems to parallel the fires and mudslides that are chewing up the hills around him. Steve Marble,, 24 Jan. 2018 This project has portrayed social housing as a repository for the idle and shiftless, meaning that the grievances of tenants, like those in Grenfell Tower, can be dismissed as grumbles of entitlement. Krista Stevens, Longreads, 24 Aug. 2017 See More

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

First Known Use of shiftless

1584, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shiftless

shift (resourcefulness)

Learn More About shiftless

Time Traveler for shiftless

Time Traveler

The first known use of shiftless was in 1584

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near shiftless

shift key


shift lock

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for shiftless

Cite this Entry

“Shiftless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for shiftless


shift·​less | \ ˈshift-ləs How to pronounce shiftless (audio) \

Kids Definition of shiftless

More from Merriam-Webster on shiftless

Nglish: Translation of shiftless for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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