Definition for SHIFT

SHIFT, v.i. [Sax. scyftan, to order or appoint, to divide or distribute, also to verge or decline, also to drive; D. schifyen, to divide, distinguish, part, turn, discuss; Dan. skifte, a parting, sharing, division, lot, share; skifter, to part, share, divide; Sw. skifta, to shift, to distribute. This verb is apparently from the same root as shiver; Dan. skifer sig, to shiver; Sw. skifta om, to change. The primary sense is to move, to depart; hence to separate. We observe by the Swedish, that skifta om, (om, about or round,) was originally the true phrase, to move about or round; and we still say, to shift about.]

  1. To move; to change place or position. Vegetables are not able to shift and seek nutriment. Woodward.
  2. To change its direction; to vary; as, the wind shifted from south to west.
  3. To change; to give place to other things. – Locke.
  4. To change clothes, particularly the under garment or chemise. – Young.
  5. To resort to expedients for a livelihood, or for accomplishing a purpose; to move from one thing to another, and seize one expedient when another fails. Men in distress wilt look to themselves, and leave their paniuns to shift as well as they can. L'Estrange.
  6. To practice indirect methods. Ralegh.
  7. To seek methods of safety. Nature teaches every creature how to shift for itself in eases of danger. L'Estrange.
  8. To change place; as, a cargo shifts from one side to the other.

Return to page 116 of the letter “S”.