Definition of drift noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//drɪft//
    ; NAmE NAmE//drɪft//
    Snow and ice, Travelling by boat or ship
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    slow movement
  1. 1[singular, uncountable] a slow steady movement from one place to another; a gradual change or development from one situation to another, especially to something bad a population drift away from rural areas attempts to halt the drift towards war
  2. of ship
  3. 2[uncountable] the movement of a ship or plane away from its direction because of currents or wind Remember to allow for drift. See related entries: Travelling by boat or ship
  4. of sea/air
  5. 3[uncountable, countable] the movement of the sea or air synonym current the general direction of drift on the east coast He knew the hidden drifts in that part of the river.
  6. of snow
  7. 4[countable] a large pile of something, especially snow, made by the wind The road was blocked by deep drifts of snow. see also snowdrift Wordfinderavalanche, blizzard, drift, flurry, hail, icicle, sleet, slush, snow, thaw See related entries: Snow and ice
  8. of flowers
  9. 5[countable] a large mass of something, especially flowers Plant daffodils in informal drifts.
  10. meaning
  11. 6[singular] the general meaning of what somebody says or writes synonym gist Do you catch my drift? My German isn't very good, but I got the drift of what she said.
  12. see also continental drift
    Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘mass of snow, leaves, etc.’): originally from Old Norse drift ‘snowdrift, something driven’; in later use from Middle Dutch drift ‘course, current’.Extra examples He criticized the rightward drift of the party. I didn’t follow the speech exactly, but I caught the main drift of what was being said. I lost the drift of what she was saying. his drift into crime the drift of people away from rural areas into urban slums Action is needed to prevent a drift into lawlessness. Do you catch my drift? I got the gist/​drift of what she said. My German isn’t very good, but I got the drift of what she said. No attempts were being made to halt the drift towards war. The polls show a drift back towards Labour.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: drift