Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adverb & adjective Drifting or floating freely; not anchored.
  • adverb & adjective Without direction or purpose.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Floating at random; not fastened by any kind of moorings; at the mercy of winds and currents.
  • Hence Figuratively, swayed by any chance impulse; all abroad; at a loss.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb Floating at random; in a drifting condition; at the mercy of wind and waves. Also fig.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Floating at random.
  • adjective Absent from his watch.
  • adjective chiefly UK Behind one's opponents, or below a required threshold in terms of score, number or position.
  • adverb In a drifting condition; at the mercy of wind and waves.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adverb floating freely; not anchored
  • adverb off course, wandering aimlessly
  • adjective afloat on the surface of a body of water
  • adjective aimlessly drifting

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Prefix a- (for on) + drift.

Examples

  • His first escape attempt was thwarted by the thugs as Phillips remained adrift from the aid and cover of the US Navy, which sat restrained by an administration too cowardly to let slip the dogs of war.

    Redstate's Comedy Stylings

  • The only thing adrift is budgetary commitment from the former and current President and the lack of an Administrator.

    Obama Speaks of NASA Being Adrift - NASA Watch

  • They're spirits -- ghosts of sailors that drowned as long ago as when that cask went adrift from a sinkin 'ship, an' that's years an 'years, Miss, as anybody can see, lookin' at the size of the barnacles on it.

    CHAPTER XXXVI

  • Poster boy of creationists everywhere, he has cut himself adrift from the world of real science.

    Behe vs. Dawkins

  • In 1991 Dea Birkett spent four months living among the 38 residents of Pitcairn Island, where Fletcher Christian and other mutineers settled after casting Captain William Bligh adrift from the Bounty in 1789.

    2007 May 07 « One-Minute Book Reviews

  • The law and the free institutions on which the West rightly prides itself grew up in a moral climate created by Christianity, but the technology that is a by-product of Western law and liberty has been cut adrift from the religious and cultural soil that nourished its origin.

    The Only Way to Save Civilization

  • A fourth mistake was the withholding of our wheat from world markets in 1929, with a view to forcing - one might as well be frank - higher prices, and the associated policy of cutting adrift from the established wheat trade selling agencies in Great Britain and elsewhere.

    Our National Task

  • They're spirits -- ghosts of sailors that drowned as long ago as when that cask went adrift from a sinkin 'ship, an' that's years an 'years, Miss, as anybody can see, lookin' at the size of the barnacles on it.

    Chapter 36

  • The southern states are loud in vehement threats of secession, if the republican candidate is elected; but their bluster is really lamentably ludicrous, for they are without money, without credit, without power, without character – in short, sans everything, but so many millions of slaves, sans good numbers of whom they would also be the very moment they cut themselves adrift from the protection of the North.

    Further Records, 1848-1883: A Series of Letters

  • I had a brother in Kingsbridge some four months ago almost pennyless, turned adrift from a French prison, with his bed & baggage to join his ship how he could.

    Letter 266

Comments

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  • "This book is about a cluster of American artists and writers adrift during the seismic upheaval of the Civil War and its wrenching aftermath."

    and

    "Who could have less in common than Mark Twain, adrift on the Mississippi, and Emily Dickinson, secluded in her father's house on Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts?"

    -- from A Summer of Hummingbirds by Christopher Benfey, pp 2-3

    October 15, 2008