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shift - definition and synonyms


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verb shift pronunciation in American English /ʃɪft/
Word Forms
present tense
present participleshifting
past tenseshifted
past participleshifted
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  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to move your body or a part of your body slightly, for example because you are bored
    shift your weight:

    Martha shifted her weight from foot to foot.

    1. a.
      if things such as land or buildings shift, or if something shifts them, they move slightly

      The wall is shifting a little bit every year.

      Synonyms and related words
    2. b.
      to move your eyes in order to look at something else
      shift your eyes/gaze:

      She stared at him, then shifted her gaze to the suitcase on the bed.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] if an idea, attitude, or plan shifts, or if someone shifts it, it changes
    shift attention/focus/emphasis:

    The government has shifted its attention away from the fight against crime.

    Our focus is shifting back toward Asia.

    1. a.
      to make someone or something else responsible for something, especially when this is unfair
      shift blame/responsibility:

      They want to shift the blame for rising unemployment onto the recession.

    2. b.
      to change from one gear to another when you are driving a car

      She shifted smoothly into third gear.

  3. 3
    [intransitive] computing to press the shift key on a computer keyboard

sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

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