Word of the Day: drift

Word of the Day
June 24, 2016
drift (verb, noun)
/drɪft/  sound icon
A paper boat drifting along a river
To drift means 'to carry or to be carried along by a current of water or air' and, in reference to snow, it means 'to be driven into heaps.' Figuratively, it means 'to be carried along by circumstances.' To drift also means 'to walk without aim' or, in reference to someone's mind or attention, 'to lose concentration.' A drift is a driving movement, as of a current of water, and also a heap, or big pile, of something, usually snow. Drift is also a synonym for 'tendency' and for 'meaning' or 'aim.'


Example sentences
The boat drifted away from the shore.
A strong wind was blowing and the snow drifted into great piles.
Teresa never makes any real decisions; she just drifts through life.
I wandered around the city, drifting here and there as the fancy took me.
Alex tried to listen to what the teacher was saying, but his mind kept drifting.
The leaves traveled along the water, following the drift of the current.
The drift of the conversation toward the supernatural made Wendy uncomfortable.
I don't really understand the drift of this argument.


Words often used with drift
get (or catch) someone's drift: understand what someone means. Example: "Oh, I thought you were talking about downhill skiing, but you mean cross-country skiing. Now I get your drift!"
Multi-word forms
drift off: fall asleep or lose concentration. Example: "I tried to stay awake until the end of the film, but I kept drifting off." "Henry knew he should pay attention to the instructions, but he kept drifting off."
drift apart: of romantic couples or friends, to gradually lose the connection that cemented the relationship. Example: "Tim and Ian realized their relationship was over; they had been drifting apart for years."
Did you know?
In astronomy, a drift is also a group of stars that seem to be moving toward a point in the sky, though this meaning is sometimes considered antiquated these days.
Other forms
drifty (adjective), driftingly (adverb).
Drift first appeared as a noun in the late 13th century, and comes from the Middle English word drift, meaning 'something that was driven.' Its origin can be traced to the Old English verb drīfan, meaning 'to drive,' even though drift itself was not used as a verb until the late 16th century.
Drift in other languages
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