American English

Definition of shift verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they shift
    he / she / it shifts
    past simple shifted
    -ing form shifting
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to move, or move something, from one position or place to another Lydia shifted uncomfortably in her chair. I shifted uneasily under his gaze. shift (from…) (to…) The action of the novel shifts from Paris to London. shift something We'll need to shift these tables around to make room for the band. shift something (from…) (to…) He shifted his gaze from the child to her. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
  2. situation/opinion/policy
  3. 2[intransitive] (of a situation, an opinion, a policy etc.) to change from one state, position, etc. to another Public attitudes toward marriage have shifted over the past 50 years. shift (from…) (to/toward/toward…) The balance of power shifted away from workers toward employers. Her sympathies gradually shifted to the side of the protesters.
  4. 3[transitive] to change your opinion of or attitude toward something, or change the way that you do something shift something We need to shift the focus of this debate. shift something (from…) (to/toward/toward…) The new policy shifted the emphasis away from fighting inflation.
  5. responsibility
  6. 4[transitive] shift responsibility/blame (for something) (onto somebody) to make someone else responsible for something you should do or something bad that you have done He tried to shift the blame for his mistakes onto his colleagues.
  7. in vehicle
  8. 5[intransitive] to change the gears when you are driving a vehicle to shift into second gear
  9. Idioms
      change/shift gears
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    1. 1to put a motor vehicle or a bicycle into a different gear
    2. 2to move from one activity or interest to another After giving an intense performance it was difficult for the actress to change gears and become herself again.
    shift your ground (usually disapproving)
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    to change your opinion about a subject, especially during a discussion
    (the) shifting sands (of something)
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    used to describe a situation that changes so often that it is difficult to understand or deal with it
    Phrasal Verbsshift for yourself
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: shift