\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 Waters is a shifty guard who is a tremendous passer out of pick and roll. Amie Just,, "LSU guard Tremont Waters selected as No. 51 pick by Boston Celtics," 20 June 2019 The Bruins have the 6-foot-9, 250-pound Zdeno Chara on their defense, but outside of him, their lineup is smaller and shiftier than St. Louis'. Isabelle Khurshudyan,, "Stanley Cup Final shows there’s still room for ‘heavy’ hockey in NHL," 4 June 2019 The player, however, who stood out most for the Bulls was shifty slot back Nathaniel Noel, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound playmaker who ran circles around opposing teams. Chris Hays,, "Miami Northwestern wins UCF 7 on 7 tournament," 3 June 2019 Swain is cuddly and cute, and has swooningly palpable chemistry with a handsome, shifty love interest played by Dyllon Burnside. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Pose Is Bold, Necessary Melodrama," 30 May 2018 There’s something shifty about the newcomer, Victor Shubin, what with his ashy skin and creepy way of looking at Jake’s mom, who never remarried after her husband, the boy’s father, disappeared during World War II. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: The Travails and Triumphs of Derring-Do," 22 Feb. 2019 Set in the 1960s and '70s, Hugh Grant is devilishly twisted as Jeremy Thorpe, the Liberal Party's leader in Parliament, who tries to cover up his secret affair with a shifty, obsessive young man named Norman Josiffe (Ben Whishaw). Hank Stuever,, "'Sharp Objects,' 'Yellowstone' and other new shows worth a look this summer," 14 June 2018 History is littered with small, shifty receivers who never caught a pass in pro football. Stephen Holder, Indianapolis Star, "Colts' new offensive coordinator gets T.Y. Hilton crash course," 13 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of shifty

circa 1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shifty

Statistics for shifty

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shifty

The first known use of shifty was circa 1570

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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