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shift - definition and synonyms

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verb     shift pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleshifting
past tenseshifted
past participleshifted
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] if an idea, attitude, or plan shifts, or if someone shifts it, it changes
    shift your ground:

    Most newspapers have shifted their ground considerably on this issue.

    shift attention/focus/emphasis:

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

    Britain’s focus is shifting back towards its old partners in Europe.

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

      She shifted smoothly into third gear as we went into the bend.

    2. b.
      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. 2
    [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.
      [transitive] British informal to move an object from one place to another

      We’ll need to shift this table over to the wall.

    2. b.
      [intransitive/transitive] if things such as land or buildings shift, or if something shifts them, they move slightly

      The wall is shifting a couple of inches every year.

      Synonyms and related words
    3. c.
      [intransitive/transitive] 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.

  3. 3
    [transitive] British informal to get rid of something

    None of the medicines I’ve taken have shifted this cold.

    There’s still a stain on the carpet that I can’t shift.

    1. a.
      informal to sell something

      The supermarkets shift more wine in a weekend than we do all year.

  4. 4
    [intransitive] computing to press the shift key on a computer keyboard
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