Meaning of SHIFT in English


I. shift 1 S3 W3 AC /ʃɪft/ BrE AmE verb

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: sciftan 'to divide, arrange' ]

1 . MOVE

a) [intransitive and transitive] to move from one place or position to another, or make something do this:

Joe listened, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to another.

She shifted her gaze from me to Bobby.

b) [transitive] British English informal to move something, especially by picking it up and carrying it:

Give me a hand to shift these chairs.

2 . CHANGE ATTENTION [transitive] to change a situation, discussion etc by giving special attention to one idea or subject instead of to a previous one

shift something away/onto/from etc

The White House hopes to shift the media’s attention away from foreign policy issues.

attention/emphasis/focus shifts

In this stage of a rape case, the focus often shifts onto the victim and her conduct.

shift gear American English (=change what you are doing)

It’s hard to shift gear when you come home after a busy day at work.

3 . CHANGE OPINION [intransitive and transitive] if someone’s opinions, beliefs etc shift, they change:

Public opinion was beginning to shift to the right (=become more right-wing) .

shifting attitudes towards marriage

He refused to shift his ground (=change his opinion) .

4 . shift the blame/responsibility (onto somebody) to make someone else responsible for something, especially for something bad that has happened:

It was a clear attempt to shift the responsibility for the crime onto the victim.

5 . COSTS/SPENDING [transitive always + adverb/preposition] to change the way that money is paid or spent SYN direct :

the need to shift more resources towards reducing poverty

6 . DIRT/MARKS [transitive] British English to remove dirt or marks from a surface or piece of clothing:

a new washing powder that will shift any stain

7 . IN A CAR [intransitive and transitive] especially American English to change the ↑ gear s when you are driving SYN change British English :

I shifted into second gear.

8 . SELL [transitive] British English informal to sell a product, especially a lot of it:

The store shifted over 1,000 copies of the book last week.

II. shift 2 AC BrE AmE noun [countable]

1 . a change in the way people think about something, in the way something is done etc

shift from/to

the shift from one type of economic system to another

shift in

an important shift in policy

a marked shift (=noticeable change) in attitudes towards women

2 .

a) if workers in a factory, hospital etc work shifts, they work for a particular period of time during the day or night, and are then replaced by others, so that there are always people working

do/work a (10-/12-/24- etc hour) shift

Dave had to work a 12-hour shift yesterday.

I work shifts.

night/day etc shift

The thought of working night shifts put her off becoming a nurse.

early/late shift

I’m on the early shift tomorrow.

shift work/worker/working

people who do shift work

A shift system has been introduced.

b) the workers who work during one of these periods

night/day/early/late shift

before the early shift goes off duty

3 . a ↑ shift key :

To run the spell-checker, press SHIFT and F7.

4 . ( also shift dress ) a simple straight loose-fitting woman’s dress

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)


▪ a big/major shift

There has recently been a big shift in the way people are accessing information.

▪ a significant/marked shift (=big and noticeable)

There has been a significant shift in government policy on education.

▪ a fundamental shift (=a complete change)

A fundamental shift in attitudes was underway.

▪ a sudden shift

She immediately picked up his sudden shifts of mood.

▪ a dramatic shift (=a big and sudden change)

Increased spending on the armed forces marks a dramatic shift in priorities.

▪ a small/slight shift

There has been only a slight shift in income distribution.

▪ a gradual shift

There has been a gradual shift in people’s attitudes towards cars.

▪ a subtle shift (=a change which is small and not easy to notice)

Recently there has been a subtle shift in public opinion about the environment.

▪ a policy shift

The policy shift was triggered by a sharp increase in violent crime.

▪ a cultural shift

We all know there were cultural shifts in the 1960s that significantly changed our society.

■ verbs

▪ mark/represent a shift

The idea represents a dramatic shift in health care policy.

▪ cause/bring about a shift

The affair has brought about a shift in the government’s attitude towards immigration.

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)

■ verbs

▪ work a shift

They work quite long shifts.

▪ do a shift

I did a 12-hour shift yesterday.

▪ work in shifts

We had to work in shifts – four hours on and four off.

▪ be on shift (=be working a shift)

He hardly sees the kids when he’s on shift.

▪ be on the late/early/night etc shift (=be working a particular shift)

She’s on the late shift.

▪ be on day/night shifts (=be working a series of day or night shifts)

He’s on night shifts all next week.


▪ a night shift

She found it hard to stay awake during her night shifts at the factory.

▪ a day shift

He’s going to be on day shifts for five days.

▪ a morning/afternoon/evening shift

All the machines are cleaned at the end of every afternoon shift.

▪ an early/late shift

Nobody wants to do the late shift.

▪ a 12-hour/16-hour etc shift

We used to work eight-hour shifts.

▪ the graveyard shift informal (=a shift that begins late at night or very early in the morning)

He chose to work the graveyard shift because the pay was slightly better.

▪ a double shift (=when someone works two shifts one after the other)

He is only halfway through a 20-hour double shift.

■ shift + NOUN

▪ shift work/working (=working shifts)

Does the job involve shift work?

▪ a shift worker

The meetings are at different times so that shift workers have an opportunity to attend.

▪ a shift system (=a system in which people work shifts)

A shift system was introduced in the department last year.

• • •


▪ change noun [uncountable and countable] a situation in which someone or something becomes different, or the act of making something different:

There was a sudden change in the weather.


We are living in a period of great change.


He was told to make some slight changes to his essay.

▪ alteration noun [uncountable and countable] a change, especially a small one that happens naturally or gradually, or one that is made in order to improve something:

I noticed a slight alteration in her behaviour.


They had to make some alterations to their original theory.

▪ reform noun [uncountable and countable] a change made to a system or law in order to improve it:

He called for a reform of our outdated voting system.


Many people opposed the economic reforms.

▪ shift noun [countable] a change, especially in people’s attitudes or in the way they do things, or in the position of someone or something:

a shift in public opinion about the war


There has been a noticeable shift in government policy on education.


There needs to be a major shift away from road transport to rail transport.


After he died, there was a dramatic shift in the balance of power.

▪ swing a big change, especially in someone’s opinions or moods:

There has been a big swing toward the Democrats (=many more people are supporting them) .


The drug can cause mood swings.

▪ fluctuation noun [uncountable and countable] a change in something - used when something changes often:

fluctuations in the value of the dollar


temperature fluctuations


fluctuations in his mood


There has been some fluctuation in productivity levels.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.