Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To exchange (one thing) for another of the same class.
  • intransitive verb To move or transfer from one place or position to another.
  • intransitive verb To alter (position or place).
  • intransitive verb To change (gears), as in an automobile.
  • intransitive verb Linguistics To alter phonetically as part of a systematic historical change.
  • intransitive verb To change position, direction, place, or form.
  • intransitive verb To provide for one's own needs; get along.
  • intransitive verb To get along by tricky or evasive means.
  • intransitive verb To change gears, as when driving an automobile.
  • intransitive verb Linguistics To be altered as part of a systematic historical change. Used of speech sounds.
  • intransitive verb To use a shift key.
  • noun A change from one person or configuration to another; a substitution.
  • noun A group of workers that relieve another on a regular schedule.
  • noun The working period of such a group.
  • noun A means to an end; an expedient.
  • noun A stratagem; a trick.
  • noun A change in direction.
  • noun A change in attitude, judgment, or emphasis.
  • noun A change in position, as.
  • noun Music A change of the hand position in playing the violin or a similar instrument.
  • noun Football A rearrangement of players from one formation to another just prior to the snap of the ball.
  • noun Baseball A rearrangement of one or more fielders for improved defense against a particular hitter.
  • noun Computers Movement of characters in a register to the left or right, as of the bits in a byte.
  • noun The act or an instance of using a shift key.
  • noun Physics A change in wavelength, causing a movement of a spectral band or line.
  • noun A systematic change of the phonetic or phonemic structure of a language.
  • noun Functional shift.
  • noun A loosely fitting dress that hangs straight from the shoulder; a chemise.
  • noun A woman's undergarment; a slip or chemise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To divide; partition; distribute; apportion; assign: as, to shift lands among coheirs.
  • To transfer or move, as from one person, place, or position to another: as, to shift the blame; to shift one's quarters; to shift the load to the other shoulder.
  • To cause or induce to move off or away; get rid of, as by the use of some expedient.
  • To remove and replace with another or others; put off and replace; change: as, to shift one's clothes; to shift the scenes on a stage.
  • To clothe (one's self) afresh or anew; change the dress of.
  • To alter or vary in character, form, or other respect; change.
  • To put away; disengage or disencumber one's self of, as of a burden or inconvenience.
  • To make division or distribution.
  • To change.
  • To change place, position, direction, or the like; move.
  • To change dress, particularly the under-garments.
  • To use changing methods or expedients, as in a case of difficulty, in earning a livelihood, or the like; adopt expedients; contrive in one way or another; do the best one can; seize one expedient when another fails: as, to shift for a living; to shift for one's self.
  • To pick up or make out a livelihood; manage to succeed.
  • To practise indirect methods.
  • In playing the violin or a similar instrument, to move the left hand from its first or original position next to the nut.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English shiften, from Old English sciftan, to arrange, divide.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English sciftan ("arrange, organise"), from Proto-Germanic *skiftanan. Cognate with Dutch schiften, German schichten, Norwegian skifte.

Examples

  • The term shift work disorder, or SWD, may be new to you.

    The 17 Day Diet

  • That's why I think the term "shift" is more accurate.

    Paul Pardi: Protesting Protestantism: Why Religion Must Continue To Change

  • That's why I think the term "shift" is more accurate.

    Paul Pardi: Protesting Protestantism: Why Religion Must Continue To Change

  • This shift is code for sending the nearly three million people who live in camps, under the protection of U.N. forces, back home to their villages, where they are to be "protected" by the very Sudanese forces that have been slaughtering them for the last seven years.

    Susan Morgan: Will Adam Bush Have Died in Vain?

  • This shift is code for sending the nearly three million people who live in camps, under the protection of U.N. forces, back home to their villages, where they are to be "protected" by the very Sudanese forces that have been slaughtering them for the last seven years.

    Susan Morgan: Will Adam Bush Have Died in Vain?

  • This shift is code for sending the nearly three million people who live in camps, under the protection of U.N. forces, back home to their villages, where they are to be "protected" by the very Sudanese forces that have been slaughtering them for the last seven years.

    Susan Morgan: Will Adam Bush Have Died in Vain?

  • This shift is code for sending the nearly three million people who live in camps, under the protection of U.N. forces, back home to their villages, where they are to be "protected" by the very Sudanese forces that have been slaughtering them for the last seven years.

    Susan Morgan: Will Adam Bush Have Died in Vain?

  • This shift is code for sending the nearly three million people who live in camps, under the protection of U.N. forces, back home to their villages, where they are to be "protected" by the very Sudanese forces that have been slaughtering them for the last seven years.

    Susan Morgan: Will Adam Bush Have Died in Vain?

  • Funcom's new MMO project, The Secret World, has been in the works for some time already, and it sounds like its going to take a good while longer, the online game specialists confirming that major changes will see the title shift fundamentally from original plans. blog, Funcom's Ragnar Tornquist has said that these new changes will take a while to be implemented - seeing the game pushed back.

    Jolt

  • The fundamental block on making this shift is the Pakistan government, which appears to have powerful domestic reasons to want to be able say, even as pure fig leaf, the US military is not fighting in Pakistan.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Drone Warfare, the CIA, and Charlie Savage’s NYT Article

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