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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To change, swap.
  • v. to move from one place to another; to redistribute.
  • v. to change position.
  • v. To change (one's clothes); also to change (someone's) underclothes.
  • v. To change gears (in a car).
  • v. to manipulate a binary number by moving all of its digits left or right; compare rotate
  • v. to remove the first value from an array.
  • v. to dispose of.
  • v. to hurry.
  • v. to engage in sexual petting.
  • n. a type of women's undergarment, a slip
  • n. a change of workers, now specifically a set group of workers or period of working time
  • n. an act of shifting; a slight movement or change
  • n. the gear mechanism in a motor vehicle
  • n. Alternative spelling of Shift (“the modifier button of computer keyboards”).
  • n. a bit shift
  • n. The infield shift.
  • n. The act of sexual petting.
  • n. A contrivance, device to try when other methods fail
  • n. a trick, an artifice

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of shifting.
  • n. The act of putting one thing in the place of another, or of changing the place of a thing; change; substitution.
  • n. Something frequently shifted; especially, a woman's under-garment; a chemise.
  • n. The change of one set of workmen for another; hence, a spell, or turn, of work; also, a set of workmen who work in turn with other sets.
  • n. In building, the extent, or arrangement, of the overlapping of plank, brick, stones, etc., that are placed in courses so as to break joints.
  • n. A breaking off and dislocation of a seam; a fault.
  • n. A change of the position of the hand on the finger board, in playing the violin.
  • intransitive v. To divide; to distribute.
  • intransitive v. To make a change or changes; to change position; to move; to veer; to substitute one thing for another; -- used in the various senses of the transitive verb.
  • intransitive v. To resort to expedients for accomplishing a purpose; to contrive; to manage.
  • intransitive v. To practice indirect or evasive methods.
  • intransitive v. To slip to one side of a ship, so as to destroy the equilibrum; -- said of ballast or cargo.
  • transitive v. To divide; to distribute; to apportion.
  • transitive v. To change the place of; to move or remove from one place to another
  • transitive v. To change the position of; to alter the bearings of; to turn.
  • transitive v. To exchange for another of the same class; to remove and to put some similar thing in its place; to change
  • transitive v. To change the clothing of; -- used reflexively.
  • transitive v. To put off or out of the way by some expedient.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • Synonyms To vary, veer chop.
  • n. Change; alteration or variation in kind, character, place, position, direction, or the like; the substitution of one thing, kind, position, direction, or the like for another.
  • n. In playing the violin or a similar instrument, any position of the left hand except that nearest the nut.
  • n. The substitution of one thing or set of things for another; a change: as, a shift of clothes.
  • n. A woman's under-garment; a chemise.
  • n. In mining, a slight fault or dislocation of a seam or stratum, accompanied by depression of one part, destroying the continuity.
  • n. A squad or relay of men who alternate with another squad or relay in carrying on some work or operation; hence, the time during which such a squad or relay works: as, to be on the day shift; a night shift; the day is divided into three shifts of eight hours each.
  • n. Turn; move; varying circumstance.
  • n. An expedient, device, or contrivance which may be tried when others fail; a resource.
  • n.
  • n. A petty or indirect expedient; a dodge; a trick; an artifice.
  • n. In building, a mode of arranging the tiers of bricks, timbers, planks, etc., so that the joints of adjacent rows shall not coincide.
  • n. Synonyms Device, Resort, etc. (see expedient), stratagem.
  • n. Subterfuge, etc. (see evasion), dodge, ruse, wile, quirk.
  • n. In pianoforte-making, the action of the shifting pedal (which see).

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

  • v. change phonetically as part of a systematic historical change
  • n. the key on the typewriter keyboard that shifts from lower-case letters to upper-case letters
  • v. move and exchange for another
  • n. a loose-fitting dress hanging straight from the shoulders without a waist
  • n. (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other
  • v. move very slightly
  • v. change gears
  • v. change place or direction
  • n. a woman's sleeveless undergarment
  • v. lay aside, abandon, or leave for another
  • v. use a shift key on a keyboard
  • n. the time period during which you are at work
  • v. change in quality
  • n. a qualitative change
  • n. the act of moving from one place to another
  • v. make a shift in or exchange of
  • n. an event in which something is displaced without rotation
  • n. a crew of workers who work for a specific period of time
  • n. the act of changing one thing or position for another
  • v. move sideways or in an unsteady way
  • v. move from one setting or context to another
  • v. move abruptly
  • v. move around


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.



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