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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 ?
She drifted in one direction, and he was borne off in another, both cheering.
And toward that bank, which was the north bank, we drifted rapidly, at the same time going down-stream.
After Jane Clayton, with rifle levelled at the breast of Rokoff, had succeeded in holding him off until the dugout in which she had taken refuge had drifted out upon the bosom of the Ugambi beyond the man's reach, she had lost no time in paddling to the swiftest sweep of the channel, nor did she for long days and weary nights cease to hold her craft to the most rapidly moving part of the river, except when during the hottest hours of the day she had been wont to drift as the current would take her, lying prone in the bottom of the canoe, her face sheltered from the sun with a great palm leaf.
he said to himself as he fell, and he tried to stop his fall but could not, and only stopped when his feet plunged into a thick layer of snow that had drifted to the bottom of the hollow.
There is no need of going into an extended recital of our suffering in the small boat during the many days we were driven and drifted, here and there, willy-nilly, across the ocean.
Our gloves are stiff with the frozen blood, Our furs with the drifted snow, As we come in with the seal--the seal
The flat drifted under the bridge and then promptly sank in midstream.