Synonyms & Antonyms of shift

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 to change the place or position of
  • he shifted the vase closer to the wall so that it wouldn't get knocked over

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2 to change one's position
  • she shifted uncomfortably in her seat throughout the interview

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3 to pass from one form, state, or level to another
  • she watched the aurora in fascination as its colors shifted from green to blue

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4 to give up (something) and take something else in return
  • my brother and I shifted seats just before takeoff so that he could sit by the window

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5 to meet one's day-to-day needs
  • left the others to shift for themselves

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Synonyms & Antonyms of shift (Entry 2 of 2)

2 the act or an instance of changing position
  • made a small shift to the left to make more room on the bench

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About shift

How is the word shift different from other nouns like it?

Some common synonyms of shift are expedient, makeshift, resort, resource, and stopgap. While all these words mean "something one turns to in the absence of the usual means or source of supply," shift implies a tentative or temporary imperfect expedient.

desperate shifts to stave off foreclosure

When could expedient be used to replace shift?

The words expedient and shift can be used in similar contexts, but expedient may apply to any device or contrivance used when the usual one is not at hand or not possible.

a flimsy expedient

When is it sensible to use makeshift instead of shift?

The synonyms makeshift and shift are sometimes interchangeable, but makeshift implies an inferior expedient adopted because of urgent need or allowed through indifference.

old equipment employed as a makeshift

How are the words resource and resort related as synonyms of shift?

Both resource and resort apply to anything one falls back upon.

exhausted all of their resources

a last resort

When might stopgap be a better fit than shift?

While the synonyms stopgap and shift are close in meaning, stopgap applies to something used temporarily as an emergency measure.

a new law intended only as a stopgap

Learn More About shift

Time Traveler for shift

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Cite this Entry

“Shift.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on shift

Nglish: Translation of shift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shift for Arabic Speakers


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