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v. drift·ed, drift·ing, drifts
1. To be carried along by currents of air or water: a balloon drifting eastward; as the wreckage drifted toward shore.
2. To proceed or move unhurriedly or aimlessly: drifting among the party guests; a day laborer, drifting from town to town.
3. To live or behave without a clear purpose or goal: drifted through his college years unable to decide on a career.
4. To have no continuing focus; stray: My attention drifted during the boring presentation.
5. To vary from or oscillate randomly about a fixed setting, position, or mode of operation.
6. To be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of a current: snow drifting to five feet.
1. To cause to be carried in a current: drifting the logs downstream.
2. To pile up in banks or heaps: Wind drifted the loose straw against the barn.
3. Western US To drive (livestock) slowly or far afield, especially for grazing.
1. Something moving along in a current of air or water: a drift of logs in the river.
2. A bank or pile, as of sand or snow, heaped up by currents of air or water.
3. Geology Rock debris transported and deposited by or from ice, especially by or from a glacier.
a. A general trend or tendency, as of opinion. See Synonyms at tendency.
b. General meaning or purport; tenor: caught the drift of the conversation.
a. A gradual change in position: an iceberg's eastward drift.
b. A gradual deviation from an original course, model, method, or intention.
c. Variation or random oscillation about a fixed setting, position, or mode of behavior.
6. A gradual change in the output of a circuit or amplifier.
7. The rate of flow of a water current.
a. A tool for ramming or driving something down.
b. A tapered steel pin for enlarging and aligning holes.
a. A horizontal or nearly horizontal passageway in a mine running through or parallel to a vein.
b. A secondary mine passageway between two main shafts or tunnels.
10. A drove or herd, especially of swine.

[From Middle English, drove, herd, act of driving; see dhreibh- in Indo-European roots.]

drift′y adj.


References in classic literature ?
Heavy clouds had drifted across the face of the moon, and before them in the deep twi- light went a man with a short ladder upon his shoul- der.
His iron constitution was somewhat broken by mountain pneumonia, and he had drifted back to live in a milder country for a while.
There were many rumors, some of which have vaguely drifted down to the present time, how that appearances indicated violence; that there were the marks of fingers on his throat, and the print of a bloody hand on his plaited ruff; and that his peaked beard was dishevelled, as if it had been fiercely clutched and pulled.
They were ancient sea -- captains, for the most part, who, after being tossed on every sea, and standing up sturdily against life's tempestuous blast, had finally drifted into this quiet nook, where, with little to disturb them, except the periodical terrors of a Presidential election, they one and all acquired a new lease of existence.
But as he did so, the oarsmen expectantly desisted from rowing; the boat drifted a little towards the ship's stern; so that, as if by magic, the letter suddenly ranged along with Gabriel's eager hand.
On a Saturday night he drifted into a town with his fellows; and because it was raining, and there was no other place provided for him, he went to a saloon.
But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reasons to despair of him.
After a fourth persuader, he drifted into it himself, in a quite simple and natural way:
Sometimes the banks were overhung with thick masses of willows that wholly hid the ground behind; sometimes we had noble hills on one hand, clothed densely with foliage to their tops, and on the other hand open levels blazing with poppies, or clothed in the rich blue of the corn-flower; sometimes we drifted in the shadow of forests, and sometimes along the margin of long stretches of velvety grass, fresh and green and bright, a tireless charm to the eye.
By and by she come along, and she drifted in so close that they could a run out a plank and walked ashore.
Neighbor after neighbor, of both sexes, followed, and the procession drifted in and out all day and evening and all Wednesday and Thursday.
The moon drifted from behind the clouds and exposed the pallid face.