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c.1300, literally "a being driven" (of snow, etc.); not recorded in Old English; either a suffixed form of drive (v.) (cf. thrift/thrive) or borrowed from Old Norse drift "snow drift," or Middle Dutch drift "pasturage, drove, flock," both from Proto-Germanic *driftiz (cf. Danish and Swedish drift, German Trift), from PIE root *dhreibh- "to drive, push" (see drive (v.)). Sense of "what one is getting at" is from 1520s. Meaning "controlled slide of a sports car" attested by 1955.
late 16c., from drift (n.). Figurative sense of "be passive and listless" is from 1822. Related: Drifted; drifting.
A gradual deviation from an original course, model, method, or intention.
Movement of teeth from their normal position in the dental arch because of the loss of contiguous teeth.
See genetic drift.
A variation or random oscillation about a fixed setting, position, or mode of behavior.
(also drift out, drift away) To leave; depart: Beat it. Drift (1960s+ Underworld & prison)Related Terms