Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word


 - definitions and thesaurus

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

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

    The children are shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

    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

    Public opinion had shifted sharply following the war.

    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.



… a teaching method in which groups of children learn independently using a computer linked to the internet

BuzzWord Article

Word of the Day


a fight

Open Dictionary


a derogatory word used for referring to people in the banking and investment industry who are thought of as taking serious risks in order to increase their own earnings …

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog