• WordNet 3.6
    • v drift be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of wind or a current "snow drifting several feet high","sand drifting like snow"
    • v drift be subject to fluctuation "The stock market drifted upward"
    • v drift drive slowly and far afield for grazing "drift the cattle herds westwards"
    • v drift cause to be carried by a current "drift the boats downstream"
    • v drift move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment "The gypsies roamed the woods","roving vagabonds","the wandering Jew","The cattle roam across the prairie","the laborers drift from one town to the next","They rolled from town to town"
    • v drift be in motion due to some air or water current "The leaves were blowing in the wind","the boat drifted on the lake","The sailboat was adrift on the open sea","the shipwrecked boat drifted away from the shore"
    • v drift move in an unhurried fashion "The unknown young man drifted among the invited guests"
    • v drift wander from a direct course or at random "The child strayed from the path and her parents lost sight of her","don't drift from the set course"
    • v drift live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely "My son drifted around for years in California before going to law school"
    • v drift vary or move from a fixed point or course "stock prices are drifting higher"
    • n drift a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) passageway in a mine "they dug a drift parallel with the vein"
    • n drift the pervading meaning or tenor "caught the general drift of the conversation"
    • n drift a general tendency to change (as of opinion) "not openly liberal but that is the trend of the book","a broad movement of the electorate to the right"
    • n drift a large mass of material that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents
    • n drift a force that moves something along
    • n drift the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)
    • n drift a process of linguistic change over a period of time
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Sheep can survive for up to two weeks buried in snow drifts.Click Here For More Details
    • Drift (Geol) A collection of loose earth and rocks, or boulders, which have been distributed over large portions of the earth's surface, especially in latitudes north of forty degrees, by the agency of ice.
    • Drift (Mil) A deviation from the line of fire, peculiar to oblong projectiles.
    • Drift A driving; a violent movement. "The dragon drew him [self] away with drift of his wings."
    • Drift A drove or flock, as of cattle, sheep, birds.
    • Drift A mass of matter which has been driven or forced onward together in a body, or thrown together in a heap, etc., esp. by wind or water; as, a drift of snow, of ice, of sand, and the like.
    • Drift (Mining) A passage driven or cut between shaft and shaft; a driftway; a small subterranean gallery; an adit or tunnel.
    • Drift (Mech) A slightly tapered tool of steel for enlarging or shaping a hole in metal, by being forced or driven into or through it; a broach.
    • Drift (Mil) A tool used in driving down compactly the composition contained in a rocket, or like firework.
    • Drift Anything driven at random.
    • Drift Course or direction along which anything is driven; setting. "Our drift was south."
    • Drift In South Africa, a ford in a river.
    • Drift (Phys. Geog) One of the slower movements of oceanic circulation; a general tendency of the water, subject to occasional or frequent diversion or reversal by the wind; as, the easterly drift of the North Pacific.
    • a Drift That causes drifting or that is drifted; movable by wind or currents; as, drift currents; drift ice; drift mud.
    • Drift That which is driven, forced, or urged along
    • Drift The act or motion of drifting; the force which impels or drives; an overpowering influence or impulse. "A bad man, being under the drift of any passion, will follow the impulse of it till something interpose."
    • Drift (Naut) The angle which the line of a ship's motion makes with the meridian, in drifting.
    • Drift The difference between the size of a bolt and the hole into which it is driven, or between the circumference of a hoop and that of the mast on which it is to be driven.
    • Drift (Naut) The distance between the two blocks of a tackle.
    • Drift (Naut) The distance through which a current flows in a given time.
    • Drift (Naut) The distance to which a vessel is carried off from her desired course by the wind, currents, or other causes.
    • Drift (Aëronautics) The horizontal component of the pressure of the air on the sustaining surfaces of a flying machine. The lift is the corresponding vertical component, which sustains the machine in the air.
    • Drift (Arch) The horizontal thrust or pressure of an arch or vault upon the abutments.
    • Drift (Naut) The place in a deep-waisted vessel where the sheer is raised and the rail is cut off, and usually terminated with a scroll, or driftpiece.
    • Drift The tendency of an act, argument, course of conduct, or the like; object aimed at or intended; intention; hence, also, import or meaning of a sentence or discourse; aim. "He has made the drift of the whole poem a compliment on his country in general.""Now thou knowest my drift ."
    • Drift To accumulate in heaps by the force of wind; to be driven into heaps; as, snow or sand drifts .
    • Drift To drive into heaps; as, a current of wind drifts snow or sand.
    • Drift To drive or carry, as currents do a floating body.
    • Drift (Mach) To enlarge or shape, as a hole, with a drift.
    • Drift To float or be driven along by, or as by, a current of water or air; as, the ship drifted astern; a raft drifted ashore; the balloon drifts slowly east. "We drifted o'er the harbor bar."
    • Drift (mining) to make a drift; to examine a vein or ledge for the purpose of ascertaining the presence of metals or ores; to follow a vein; to prospect.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Greek has over 4 words for love. English has only one. Get my drift?
    • n drift A driving; a force impelling or urging forward; impulse; hence, figuratively, overbearing power or influence.
    • n drift Anything driven; especially, an assemblage or a number of things or animals driven, or impelled by any kind of force: as, a drift of trees in a torrent; a drift of cattle (a drove); a drift of bullets.
    • n drift Hence A heap of any matter driven together: as, a drift of snow, or a snow-drift; a drift of sand.
    • n drift Course of anything; tendency; aim; intention: as, the drift of reasoning or argument;the drift of a discourse.
    • n drift In geology, loose detrital material, fragments of rock, boulders, sand, gravel, or clay, or a mixture of two or more of these deposits, resting on the surface of the bed-rock. The term drift was introduced by Lyell in 1840, to take the place of diluvium, with which latter word the idea of a universal deluge, and especially the Noachian deluge, had been generally associated. (See diluvium.) The word drift is now usually applied to detrital deposits when it is intended to include at the same time the transportation from a distance. Almost all detrital material has, however, been formed with more or less help from running water, and therefore must in that process have been moved to a greater or less distance from the place of its origin. It is especially with reference to material lying on the surface in northern Europe and northeastern North America that the term drift is used at present by geologists, and it is frequently called northern drift, since much of it has been moved in a southerly direction. And since ice is believed by most geologists to have been the principal agent by which this drift was moved, it is also denominated glacial drift, while the detrital material transported by the agency of ice at the present time is not so called. See glacier and moraine.
    • n drift In mining, a nearly horizontal excavation made in opening or working a mine: nearly the synonym of level. The levels or drifts are the nearly horizontal openings in a mine; the shafts are the nearly vertical openings by which the levels are connected and made accessible. (See level and adit.) A drift is wholly within the soil or rock; an open cut is open to the sky. Also driftway.
    • n drift Nautical, the leeway which a vessel makes when lying to or hove to during a gale. Also driftway.
    • n drift In ship-building, the difference between the size of a bolt and the hole into which it is to be driven, or between the circumference of a hoop and the circumference of the mast on which it is to be driven.
    • n drift The horizontal oversetting force or pressure outward exerted by an arch on the piers on which it rests.
    • n drift Slow movement of a galvanometer-needle, generally due to changes in the torsional elasticity of the suspending fiber.
    • n drift In mech., a longish round and slightly tapering piece of steel used for enlarging a hole in a metallic plate; a drift-bolt; a punch. It sometimes has grooves cut in spirals on the sides, to give it cutting edges. Also called driver.
    • n drift Milit.: A tool used in ramming down the composition contained in a rocket or similar firework
    • n drift A priming-iron to clean the vent of a piece of ordnance from burning particles after each discharge.
    • n drift In gunnery, same as derivation, 6.
    • n drift A green lane.
    • n drift Delay; procrastination.
    • n drift In South Africa, a ford.
    • n drift The distance traversed in making a single haul of a dredge.
    • drift To float or be driven along by a current of water or air; be carried at random by the force of the wind or tide; hence, figuratively, to be carried as if by accident or involuntarily into a course of action or state of circumstances.
    • drift To accumulate in heaps by the force of wind; be driven into heaps.
    • drift In mining, to run a drift. See drift, n., 6.
    • drift To drive into heaps: as, a current of wind drifts snow or sand.
    • drift To cover with drifts or driftage.
    • drift To excavate horizontally or in a horizontal direction; drive. Shafts are sunk; levels or drifts are driven or drifted.
    • drift To delay; put off.
    • n drift The flow of a current.
    • n drift The amount by which a ship is drifted by the action of a current, wind, or sea.
    • n drift The place in the sheer where the rails are cut off.
    • n drift A conical steel pin used by riveters or fitters to drift or force two holes not quite in line with each other, so that the openings will coincide and let the rivet or bolt pass through.
    • n drift A set of fishing-nets.
    • n drift A drift-net.
    • n drift The catch of fish taken in a drift-net.
    • n drift In turpentining, a subdivision of the crop, usually 2,100 boxes or cups.
    • n drift In oceanography, a broad and shallow current which advances at, a rate of ten or fifteen miles a day, like that which crosses the middle North Atlantic.
    • n drift In aëronautics, the tendency of an object supported in the air (as a kite or a bird) to move in the direction of the air; opposed to lift or the ascensional force.
    • drift To drive specifically, to drive by striking a set, pin, or block aced against the object to be driven.
    • drift To enlarge or shape a hole by the use of a drift-pin.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Tropical ants, when a flood sweeps down on them, roll themselves into a huge living ball which drifts upon the water, with the young safe and dry at the core.
    • n Drift drift a driving: a heap of matter driven together, as snow: the direction in which a thing is driven: a slow current in the sea caused by the wind: leeway: the object aimed at: the meaning of words used: :
    • v.t Drift to drive into heaps, as snow
    • v.i Drift to be floated along: to be driven into heaps
    • n Drift drift (geol.) detritus, such as broken rock, sand, gravel
    • n Drift drift (mining) a horizontal excavation or passage
    • ***


  • Oliver Wendell Holmes
    “To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “Regardless of weather, the moon shines the same; it is the drifting clouds that make it seem different on different nights.”
  • Walt Whitman
    “The words of my book nothing, the drift of it everything.”
  • E. K. Piper
    E. K. Piper
    “Keep out of the suction caused by those who drift backwards.”
  • Source Unknown
    Source Unknown
    “My friend, why have you drifted so far away? All motion is relative, maybe it is you who have moved away by standing still.”
  • Dennis Rainey
    Dennis Rainey
    “Your marriage moves toward a state of isolation. Unless you lovingly and energetically nurture your marriage, you will begin to drift away from your mate.”


Get my drift - If you get someone's drift, you understand what they are trying to say. ('Catch their drift' is an alternative form.)


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
From drive; akin to LG. & D. drift, a driving, Icel. drift, snowdrift, Dan. drift, impulse, drove, herd, pasture, common, G. trift, pasturage, drove. See Drive
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
See Drive.


In literature:

Partly obscured by drifting smoke, the curved poles cast deep shadows in the flickering light.
"Shaman" by Robert Shea
Outside, shabby frame houses ran down hill to the angry green river where drifting ice-floes shocked.
"Partners of the Out-Trail" by Harold Bindloss
The thousand-foot lane had a southward drift, this night.
"Astounding Stories of Super-Science September 1930" by Various
We were drifting inshore, which was well, provided we did not drift too hard to suit the bonefish.
"Tales of Fishes" by Zane Grey
For eight years I drifted along the coast from camp to camp, but didn't have much luck.
"Murder Point" by Coningsby Dawson
Very soon after that Sam Pretty Cow drifted away, and no one noticed his absence.
"Rim o' the World" by B. M. Bower
His eyes drifted across to his wife.
"The Twins of Suffering Creek" by Ridgwell Cullum
I learned that those sand-coated drifts were not drifts at all, but glaciers, probably the oldest living things in the world.
"A Mountain Boyhood" by Joe Mills
You wait inside the drift.
"The Plunderer" by Roy Norton
Although the snow was deep in the streets, the drifts did not deter Berinthia from calling upon her friends.
"Daughters of the Revolution and Their Times" by Charles Carleton Coffin

In poetry:

And all her heart
Is a woven part
Of the flurry and drift
Of whirling snow;
"Why" by Bliss William Carman
"While I sweep my ring along
In an air of joyous song,
Thou art drifting, heart awry,
From the sun of liberty!"
"Faith" by George MacDonald
The heart of the forest grieves
In the drift against my door;
A voice is under the eaves,
A footfall on the floor.
"A Northern Vigil" by Bliss William Carman
Laverock i' the lift,
Hae ye nae sang-thrift,
'At ye scatter 't sae heigh, and lat it a' drift?
Wasterfu laverock!
"The Laverock" by George MacDonald
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
"The Eternal Goodness" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Ah, that was in the glad years when
Joys ne’er were sifted,
But I on wilder floods since then
Have darkly drifted.
"The River Maiden" by Victor James Daley

In news:

How the Media is Enabling the GOP's Rightward Drift.
Mike Hrehowsik of Middletown and Michele Niedbala from Hazlet drifted the towers and the point of the Hook on Sunday for 3-and-4-pound fluke plus lots of shorts.
Visitors stop at 3M curve to watch the column of smoke rise and drift toward Estes Park on Tuesday.
THE names drift through the air like fragments from a Social Register Genesis, not excluding the begats.
One of the biggest concerns that remains is whether chemical or radiological contamination has drifted off-site over time.
Proof the world is drifting right: NJ Rep Scott Garrett is mainstream.
My wife and I sat for hours watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven.
That's thanks to a red tide bloom that's been drifting north from Naples, according to the Mote Marine Red Tide Hotline.
In general, there were three types of coal mines that operated in Rogues' Hollow -- the drift mine, the slope mine and the shaft mine.
In drift mining, a tunnel ran on a level into a slope or hill until the coal vein was reached.
The storm is now a truly weak tropical system, and is just barely drifting toward Florida.
We've always felt that finding a comfortable place to rest your head at an airport is challenging, but a Norwegian tourist at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome had no problem drifting away to Slumberland .
DPS officials say 41-year old Samantha Renee Tittle, of Austin, was headed west bound on FM-60 when her 2002 Saturn drifted into the east bound lane.
Drifting snow covered cars parked along Fawn Street in Little Italy in a February 2003 blizzard.
Snow measured on the order of feet with drifts that easily bury cars.

In science:

Thus the main issue with the Gold mechanism is to provide supersonic drift of gas and grains.
Physics of Grain Alignment
Within this mechanism ambipolar drift provides the supersonic velocities necessary for mechanical alignment.
Physics of Grain Alignment
If correct, this result implies that the bursters with frequency drift have magnetic fields much weaker than the B ∼ 108 –10 9 G fields usually assumed.
Rotational Evolution During Type I X-Ray Bursts
We find the expected spin changes are of the same order as the observed frequency drifts, thus supporting the picture proposed by Strohmayer et al. (1997a).
Rotational Evolution During Type I X-Ray Bursts
We have not discussed other explanations for the frequency drifts.
Rotational Evolution During Type I X-Ray Bursts