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The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English.

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the noun drift:


Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb drift:


The word drift is considered to be an easy one, according to the Dale-Chall word list, which includes 3000 words that all fourth-grade American students should know and understand.

Video footage: Drift racing outdoors, near collision
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Definition of the noun drift

What does drift mean as a name of something?

noun - plural: drifts

  1. a force that moves something along
    • lexical domain: Natural Phenomena - nouns denoting natural phenomena
    • synonyms of drift: impetus / impulsion
    • more generic word: force = the influence that produces a change in a physical quantity
  2. the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane)
  3. a process of linguistic change over a period of time
    • lexical domain: Natural Processes - nouns denoting natural processes
    • more generic term: linguistic process = a process involved in human language
    • more specific word: melioration = the linguistic process in which over a period of time a word grows more positive in connotation or more elevated in meaning
  4. a large mass of material that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents
    • lexical domain: Natural Objects - nouns denoting natural objects (not man-made)
    • more generic word: mass = a body of matter without definite shape
    • more specific words:
      • drumlin = a mound of glacial drift
      • snowdrift = a mass of snow heaped up by the wind
  5. a general tendency to change (as of opinion)
  6. the pervading meaning or tenor
    • example: caught the general drift of the conversation
    • lexical domain: Cognitive Processes - nouns denoting cognitive processes and contents
    • synonym of drift: purport
    • more generic words: strain / tenor = the general meaning or substance of an utterance
  7. a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) passageway in a mine
    • example: they dug a drift parallel with the vein
    • domain: excavation / mining
    • lexical domain: Artifacts - nouns denoting man-made objects
    • synonyms of drift: gallery / heading
    • more generic word: passageway = a passage between rooms or between buildings

Alternative definition of the noun drift


  1. The act or motion of drifting; the force which impels or drives; an overpowering influence or impulse.
  2. A place, also known as a ford, along a river where the water is shallow enough to permit oxen or sheep to be driven to the opposite side.
  3. Course or direction along which anything is driven; setting.
  4. 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.
  5. That which is driven, forced, or urged along
  6. Anything driven at random.
  7. A mass of matter which has been driven or forced onward together in a body, or thrown together in a heap, etc., especially by wind or water; as, a drift of snow, of ice, of sand, and the like.
  8. A drove or flock, as of cattle, sheep, birds.
  9. The horizontal thrust or pressure of an arch or vault upon the abutments.
  10. 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.
  11. [South Africa] a ford in a river.
  12. 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.
  13. A tool used in driving down compactly the composition contained in a rocket, or like firework.
  14. A deviation from the line of fire, peculiar to oblong projectiles.
  15. A passage driven or cut between shaft and shaft; a driftway; a small subterranean gallery; an adit or tunnel.
  16. The distance through which a current flows in a given time.
  17. [nautical] The angle which the line of a ship's motion makes with the meridian, in drifting.
  18. [nautical] The distance to which a vessel is carried off from her desired course by the wind, currents, or other causes.
  19. [nautical] 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.
  20. The distance between the two blocks of a tackle.
  21. 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.
  22. A sideways movement of the ball through the air, when bowled by a spin bowler.
  23. Driftwood included in flotsam washed up onto the beach.
  24. [geology] The material left behind by the retreat of continental glaciers, which buries former river valleys and creates young river valleys.
  25. [mining] A horizontal passage in a mine.

Specialised definition of the noun drift

Glossary of sports / motorsports

a controlled, four-wheel slide through a turn, to get a car line up for a straightaway with a minimum of steering

Definition of the verb drift

What does drift mean as a doing word?

Drift is one of the top 1000 most common verbs in the English language.

verb - inflections: drifted | drifting | drifts

  1. be in motion due to some air or water current
  2. wander from a direct course or at random
  3. move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment
  4. vary or move from a fixed point or course
    • example: stock prices are drifting higher
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • more generic word: vary = be subject to change in accordance with a variable
  5. live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely
    • example: My son drifted around for years in California before going to law school
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonym of drift: freewheel
    • more generic words: exist / live / subsist / survive = support oneself
  6. move in an unhurried fashion
  7. cause to be carried by a current
    • example: drift the boats downstream
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 1
    • lexical domain: Motions - verbs of walking, flying, swimming
    • more generic word: float = set afloat
  8. drive slowly and far afield for grazing
    • example: drift the cattle herds westwards
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 6
    • lexical domain: Contact - verbs of touching, hitting, tying, digging
    • more generic words: crop / graze / pasture = let feed in a field or pasture or meadow
  9. be subject to fluctuation
    • example: The stock market drifted upward
    • lexical domain: Change - verbs of size, temperature change, intensifying, etc.
    • more generic word: change = undergo a change; become different in essence
  10. be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of wind or a current

Alternative definition of the verb drift


  1. To move slowly, pushed by currents of water, air, etc.
  2. To move haphazardly without any destination.
  3. To deviate gently from the intended direction of travel.


Drift is the name of three different fictional characters in the Transformers franchise. For trademark reasons, toys related to the character are marketed under the name Autobot Drift.

  • occupation: Samurai


"Drift" is a BBC Books original novel written by Simon A. Forward and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It features the Fourth Doctor and Leela.

  • character: Fourth Doctor
  • genres: Speculative fiction, Science Fiction
  • copyright: 2002-02


  1. "Drift" is a 2012 drama, sport film written by Morgan O'Neill, and directed by Ben Nott and Morgan O'Neill.
  2. "Drift" is a 2000 drama romance comedy film written and directed by Quentin Lee.
  3. "Drift" is a 2013 drama film written and directed by Benny Vandendriessche.
  4. "Drift" a.k.a. "Adrift" is a 2001 drama film written by Jacqueline Epskamp and directed by Michiel van Jaarsveld.
  5. "Drift" is a 2006 film written by John Glenn and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson.
  6. "Drift" a.k.a. "Girl with Hyacinths" is a 1950 Swedish drama film written and directed by Hasse Ekman, starring Eva Henning, Ulf Palme, Anders Ek and Birgit Tengroth. It follows a man who investigates the mysterious life of his neighbour who has committed suicide.
  7. "Drift" is a film.
  8. "Drift" is a film.


  1. "Drift" is the first studio album from American electronic musician Nosaj Thing. It was released on Alpha Pup Records on June 9, 2009. A remix of the album, Drift, was released November 2, 2010 on the same label.
  2. "Drift", released December 9, 2008, is the debut solo album by Sister Hazel's lead singer and acoustic guitarist Ken Block.
    • genre: Pop rock
    • released on (6 years ago)
  3. "Drift" is the fifth album by Flotsam and Jetsam released on April 25, 1995.
  4. "Drift" is a musical album of Tufts University Beelzebubs.
    • released in (19 years ago)
  5. "Drift" is a musical album of Marc Houle.
    • released on (4 years ago)
  6. "Drift" is a musical single of Galimatias & Alina Baraz.
    • released on
  7. "Drift" is a musical EP of Seafloor.
    • released on
  8. "Drift" is a musical single of Emily Osment.
    • released on
  9. "Drift" is a musical EP of Novo Amor.
    • released on
  10. "Drift" is a musical EP of Elijah Blake.
    • released on
  11. "Drift" is a musical album of Lasertom.
    • released on
  12. "Drift" is a musical album of Adham Shaikh & Tim Floyd.
    • released on (18 years ago)
  13. "Drift" is a musical album of The Devlins.
    • released in (22 years ago)
  14. "Drift" is a musical album of Kraken.
    • released in (8 years ago)
  15. "Drift" is a musical album of The Apartments.
    • released in (23 years ago)
  16. "Drift" is a musical album of Wired.
    • released on (7 years ago)
  17. "Drift" is a musical album of Arthur Dent & Deeper Than Space.
    • released on (19 years ago)
  18. "Drift" is a musical EP of Allseits.
    • released in (8 years ago)


  1. Drift is a village on the A30 road in west Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The village is in the civil parish of Sancreed and is approximately two miles west of Penzance and six miles from Land's End.
  2. Drift a.k.a. Drift, Kentucky is an unincorporated community and coal town in Floyd County, Kentucky, United States. As of the census of 2000, there were 569 people residing in the ZIP Code Tabulation Area for Drift's ZIP code.


  1. Drift: In geology, drift is the name for all material of glacial origin found anywhere on land or at sea, including sediment and large rocks. Glacial origin refers to erosion, transportation and deposition by glaciers.
  2. Drift: There are two types of linguistic drift, a unidirectional short-term and cyclic long-term drift.
  3. Drift: In telecommunication, a drift is a comparatively long-term change in an attribute, value, or operational parameter of a system or equipment. The drift should be characterized, such as "diurnal frequency drift" and "output level drift." Drift is usually undesirable and unidirectional, but may be bidirectional, cyclic, or of such long-term duration and low excursion rate as to be negligible.
  4. The Drift film series consist of street racing films produced by Geneon Universal Entertainment released between 2006 to 2008. All the films are set on racing touge roads.

Phrases with Drift

Phrases starting with the word Drift:

  1. drift ice
  2. drift net
  3. drift off
  4. drift away
  5. drift apart
  6. Drift Space

Phrases ending with the word Drift:

  1. Snow Drift
  2. Genetic drift
  3. Get The Drift
  4. Glacial Drift
  5. Longshore drift
  6. To Get the Drift
  7. Catch One's Drift
  8. continental drift
  9. Instinctive drift

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Drift

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewMilitary Aeroplanes (1916)

An Explanatory Consideration of Their Characteristics, Performances, Construction, Maintenance and Operation, for the Use of Aviators by Grover Loening

Drift is the horizontal component, called D. The resolution of the air pressure...

Drift is a drag or resistance to motion which is overcome by the thrust of the propeller, and at the expense of which a total ...

Google previewPhilosophy of Biology (2009)

An Anthology by Alex Rosenberg, Robert Arp

F needs to be very strong relative to the effective population size for it to dominate drift.13 Drift is the default state of...

Google previewSociobiology (2000)

by Edward O. Wilson

The third process contributing to drift is the founder effect: new populations are often started by small numbers of individuals, which carry only a fraction of the genetic variability of the parental population and hence differ from it. If chance ...

Google previewExamination Questions for Certificates of Competency as Mine Inspector, Mine Foreman, Mine Manager, Fire-boss, Hoisting Engineer, Etc (1914)

A drift is a practically level passageway ...

Google previewChronicle of the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction (2007)

Discussions, Decisions and Documents by Heinz-D. Fischer, Erika J. Fischer

Continental Drift is a modern masterpiece. It is the one work upon which the jury agreed at once and without reservation. One of us compared Russell Banks to Graham Greene and Robert Stone, another to Zola, Dostoyevsky, and Faulkner.

Google previewRecommended Postearthquake Evaluation and Repair Criteria for Welded Steel Moment-frame Buildings (2000)

Interstory drift is an excellent parameter for judging the ability of a structure to resist P-D instability and collapse. It is also closely...

a significant portion of interstory drift is a result of axial elongation (and shortening) of the columns. Although ...

Google previewIllustrated Dental Embryology, Histology, and Anatomy (2014)

by Mary Bath-Balogh, Margaret J. Fehrenbach

Figure 20-21 Mesial drift is a normal, natural movement phenomenon in which all the teeth move slightly toward the midline of the oral cavity over time. It can cause crowding, late in life, of a once‐perfect denti‐tion, and may lead to poor ...

Google previewDeveloping a Vision for Ministry (2015)

by Aubrey Malphurs

Vision drift is a gradual, almost imperceptible moving or drifting away from the vision. Over time, the vision dissipates. You wake up one morning and the vision is gone—vanished into thin air. A solution to vision drift is the regular casting and ...

Google previewJack's Drift (2011)

by J. Wilfred Cahill

Jack's Drift is a funny and poignant look into the timeless art of fly fishing. Cahill takes the reader on a page turning 50 year fishing trip.

Google previewUnited Editors Encyclopedia and Dictionary (1907)

A Library of Universal Knowledge and an Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language ...

DRIFT, n. drift [AS. drifan; Goth. droiban, to move under the influence of an overpowering force: 1001. drq'f. a tempest: Dut. dri't, a flock, course, current: Ger. trtj't, a drove]: that \vhic is driven by wind or water and collected in heaps; overbearing ...

Google previewCollier's New Encyclopedia (1921)

A Loose-leaf and Self-revising Reference Work ... with 515 Illustrations and Ninety-six Maps

DRIFT, a word of several applications. 1. Architecture: The push, shoot, or DRILL horizontal thrust of an arch or vault on the abutments. 2. Geology: A loose aggregation or accumulation of transported matterr consisting of sand and clay, with a ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Crisis Management (2013)

by K. Bradley Penuel, Matt Statler, Ryan Hagen

poor emergency response are in part attributable to systemic problems such as practical drift. The challenging environment of emergency situations will exacerbate the knowledge gap between safety planners and workers or emergency ...

Google previewChambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary (part 1 of 4: A-D)

by Various

Drift, drift,n. adriving: a heapof matter driven together, assnow: the directioninwhich athing ...

Google previewInternational Encyclopedia of Ergonomics and Human Factors, Second Edition - 3 Volume Set (2006)

by Waldemar Karwowski

Gradient toward least effort Management pressure toward iciency FIGURE 1 Rasmussen's "drift to disaster" diagram (redrawn). The safe envelope is in the middle: the drift is to the left, where disaster lurks. Fitness For Use Ergonomics and ...

Google previewEncyclopedic Dictionary of Condensed Matter Physics (2004)

by Charles P. Poole, Jr.

CURRENT CARRIER DRIFT In the free form, curium is a soft silvery-white metal. It exists in two allotropic modifications: a low-temperature α-Cm below 873 K, and a high-temperature form β-Cm. The α-Cm variety has a double hexagonal ...

Google previewEncyclopedia of Tidepools and Rocky Shores (2007)

by Mark W. Denny, Steven Dean Gaines

Such "drift algae" may ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Drift

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Photos about Drift

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View more pictures about Drift Away, Fall Drift, and Snow Drift.

If you need related images for an article or a report, you can download stock photos:
Small photo of Multiple Drift SessionSmall photo of Blurred of image diffusion race drift car with lots of smoke from burning tires on speed trackSmall photo of Abstract blurred two drift cars battle with smoke from burned tireSmall photo of Blured car drifting, motion blur driftSmall photo of Street Drift racerSmall photo of Drift woodSmall photo of Riga, LV - MAY 4, 2018: Betsafe Baltic Drift Season Opening 2018 training day. Race car 10 More...

Videos about Drift

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View more videos about Drift ice, Drift Off, Drift Away, Snow Drift, Drift Apart, Drift Space, Power Drift, Genetic drift, Glacial Drift, Longshore drift, Continental drift, and Instinctive drift.

See also the pronunciation examples of Drift!

Quotes about Drift

Greatness is not in were we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind, and somtimes agaisnt it - but sail we must. And not drift, nor lie at anchor. (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.)
more quotes about drift...

Scrabble value of D2R1I1F4T1

The value of this 5-letter word is 9 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

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