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

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Other Words from shiftless

shiftlessly adverb
shiftlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for shiftless



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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, "Left Behind," 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, "Nearly 40% of young adult Californians live with their parents. Here’s everything to know about them," 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, "Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is the eternal Halloween bop — and so much more," 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, "The Life-Changing Magic of Chicken Wings and Sports Betting," 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,, "Joe Frank, who pushed the boundaries of radio storytelling, dies at 79," 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, "Grenfell Tower: London, England’s ‘Katrina Moment’," 24 Aug. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of shiftless

1584, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shiftless

shift (resourcefulness)

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Time Traveler for shiftless

Time Traveler

The first known use of shiftless was in 1584

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Statistics for shiftless

Cite this Entry

“Shiftless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for shiftless


How to pronounce shiftless (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shiftless

disapproving : lacking ambition and energy


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

Kids Definition of shiftless

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More from Merriam-Webster on shiftless

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shiftless

Spanish Central: Translation of shiftless

Nglish: Translation of shiftless for Spanish Speakers

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