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drift

[drift] /drɪft/
noun
1.
a driving movement or force; impulse; impetus; pressure.
2.
Navigation. (of a ship) the component of the movement that is due to the force of wind and currents.
3.
Oceanography. a broad, shallow ocean current that advances at the rate of 10 to 15 miles (16 to 24 km) a day.
4.
Nautical.
  1. the flow or the speed in knots of an ocean current.
  2. the distance between the end of a rope and the part in use.
  3. the distance between two blocks in a tackle.
  4. the difference in diameter between two parts, one of which fits within the other, as a mast and its mast hoops, or a treenail and its hole.
5.
Aeronautics. the deviation of an aircraft from a set course due to cross winds.
6.
the course along which something moves; tendency; aim:
The drift of political events after the war was toward chaos.
7.
a meaning; intent; purport:
the drift of a statement.
8.
something driven, as animals, rain, etc.
9.
a heap of any matter driven together.
10.
a snowdrift.
11.
Geology, glacial drift.
12.
the state or process of being driven.
13.
overbearing power or influence.
14.
Military. a tool used in charging an ordnance piece.
15.
Electronics.
  1. a gradual change in some operating characteristic of a circuit, tube, or other electronic device, either during a brief period as an effect of warming up or during a long period as an effect of continued use.
  2. the movement of charge carriers in a semiconductor due to the influence of an applied voltage.
16.
Linguistics. gradual change in the structure of a language.
17.
Machinery.
  1. Also called driftpin. a round, tapering piece of steel for enlarging holes in metal, or for bringing holes in line to receive rivets or bolts.
  2. a flat, tapered piece of steel used to drive tools with tapered shanks, as drill bits, from their holders.
18.
Civil Engineering. a secondary tunnel between two main tunnels or shafts.
19.
Mining. an approximately horizontal passageway in underground mining.
20.
Physics. the movement of charged particles under the influence of an electric field.
21.
Aerospace. the gradual deviation of a rocket or guided missile from its intended trajectory.
22.
Mechanics. displacement of the gimbals of a gyroscope due to friction on bearings, unbalance of the gyroscope's mass or other imperfections.
23.
the thrust of an arched structure.
24.
Dentistry. a shift of the teeth from their normal position in the dental arch.
25.
Western U.S. a flock of animals or birds.
verb (used without object)
26.
to be carried along by currents of water or air, or by the force of circumstances.
27.
to wander aimlessly:
He drifts from town to town.
28.
to be driven into heaps, as by the wind:
drifting sand.
29.
to deviate or vary from a set course or adjustment.
verb (used with object)
30.
to carry along:
The current drifted the boat to sea.
31.
to drive into heaps:
The wind drifted the snow.
32.
Machinery.
  1. to enlarge (a punched or drilled hole) with a drift.
  2. to align or straighten (holes, especially rivet holes) with a drift.
Verb phrases
33.
drift off, to fall asleep gradually.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English drift, noun derivative of Old English drīfan to drive; cognate with Dutch drift herd, flock, German Trift herd, pasturage, road to pasture
Related forms
driftingly, adverb
driftless, adjective
driftlessness, noun
undrifting, adjective
Synonyms
7. tenor. See tendency.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for drifts off

drift

/drɪft/
verb (mainly intransitive)
1.
(also transitive) to be carried along by or as if by currents of air or water or (of a current) to carry (a vessel, etc) along
2.
to move aimlessly from place to place or from one activity to another
3.
to wander or move gradually away from a fixed course or point; stray
4.
(also transitive) (of snow, sand, etc) to accumulate in heaps or banks or to drive (snow, sand, etc) into heaps or banks
noun
5.
something piled up by the wind or current, such as a snowdrift
6.
tendency, trend, meaning, or purport: the drift of the argument
7.
a state of indecision or inaction
8.
the extent to which a vessel, aircraft, projectile, etc is driven off its course by adverse winds, tide, or current
9.
a general tendency of surface ocean water to flow in the direction of the prevailing winds: North Atlantic Drift
10.
a driving movement, force, or influence; impulse
11.
a controlled four-wheel skid, used by racing drivers to take bends at high speed
12.
a loose unstratified deposit of sand, gravel, etc, esp one transported and deposited by a glacier or ice sheet
13.
a horizontal passage in a mine that follows the mineral vein
14.
something, esp a group of animals, driven along by human or natural agencies: a drift of cattle
15.
Also called driftpin. a tapering steel tool driven into holes to enlarge or align them before bolting or riveting
16.
an uncontrolled slow change in some operating characteristic of a piece of equipment, esp an electronic circuit or component
17.
(linguistics) gradual change in a language, esp in so far as this is influenced by the internal structure of the language rather than by contact with other languages
18.
(South African) a ford
19.
(engineering) a copper or brass bar used as a punch
Derived Forms
drifty, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old Norse: snowdrift; related to Old High German trift pasturage
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for drifts off

drift

n.

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.

v.

late 16c., from drift (n.). Figurative sense of "be passive and listless" is from 1822. Related: Drifted; drifting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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drifts off in Medicine

drift (drĭft)
n.

  1. A gradual deviation from an original course, model, method, or intention.

  2. Movement of teeth from their normal position in the dental arch because of the loss of contiguous teeth.

  3. See genetic drift.

  4. A variation or random oscillation about a fixed setting, position, or mode of behavior.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for drifts off

drift

noun
  1. A controlled sidewards skid: puts his Maserati or Ferrari into a corner with a four-wheel drift (1950s+ Car racing)
  2. Meaning; intent: Get my drift, chum? (1526+)
verb

(also drift out, drift away) To leave; depart: Beat it. Drift (1960s+ Underworld & prison)

Related Terms

get the drift


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with drifts off

drift

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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