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shift (the) deckchairs on the Titanic

To partake in or undertake some task, activity, or course of action that will ultimately prove trivial or futile in its possible effect or outcome. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. For all his blustering about overhauling the education system, the prime minister might as well have been shifting the deckchairs on the Titanic for all the good these proposals will do. You're applying for arts council funding? Why don't you just shift deckchairs on the Titanic while you're at it?
See also: deckchairs, on, shift, titanic

fend for oneself Go to shift for

See also: fend, shift

shift for oneself

 and fend for oneself
to get along by oneself; to support oneself. I'm sorry, I can't pay your rent anymore. You'll just have to shift for yourself. When I became twenty years old, I left home and began to fend for myself.
See also: shift

shift one's ground

Fig. to change one's opinions or arguments, often without being challenged or opposed. At first Jack and I were on opposite sides, but he suddenly shifted ground and started agreeing with me. Jim has very fixed views. You won't find him shifting his ground.
See also: ground, shift

stick shift

1. having to do with a nonautomatic transmission or a car that has one. I prefer a stick shift carI don't know why. The stick shift models are cheaperthat's why.
2. a nonautomatic transmission. I can't drive a stick shift! My husband took the other car and stuck me with the stick shift.
See also: shift, stick

shift gears

also switch gears
to suddenly change what you are doing I'd like to shift gears now and talk about a personal concern.
Etymology: based on the idea that a vehicle will change speed when you change gears (machine parts)
See also: gear, shift

Move/Shift your arse!

  (very informal!)
something that you say to tell someone to hurry or to get out of your way Shift your arse! We're late.
See also: move

the graveyard shift

a period of time late at night, when people have to work, often in hospitals or factories I'm working the graveyard shift this week.
See also: graveyard, shift

shift your ground

if you shift your ground in an argument or a discussion, you start to express a different opinion He's impossible to argue with because he keeps shifting his ground.
See Move arse!
See also: ground, shift

shift for oneself

Also, fend for oneself. Provide for one's own needs, as in Don't worry about Anne; she's very good at shifting for herself, or The children had to fend for themselves after school. The first term, using shift in the now obsolete sense of "manage," was first recorded about 1513; the variant, using fend for in the sense of "look after," was first recorded in 1629.
See also: shift

shift for

To provide for, take care of, or defend oneself without assistance. Used reflexively: The teenagers went camping, confident that they could shift for themselves.
See also: shift

blame shifting

n. a process in business and government wherein the blame for something bad is shifted from person to person. (A coinage that has appeal because it fills the need to express the concept succinctly.) Can’t we have a decent argument without your constant blame shifting?
See also: blame, shift

graveyard shift

n. the night shift of work in a factory, usually starting at about midnight. (see also swing shift.) The pay is pretty good on the graveyard shift.
See also: graveyard, shift

stick shift

1. mod. having to do with a nonautomatic transmission or a car that has one. I prefer a stick shift car—I don’t know why. The stick shift models are cheaper—that’s why. This one’s stick shift.
2. n. a nonautomatic transmission. My husband took the other car and stuck me with the stick shift.
See also: shift, stick

swing shift

n. an evening work shift in a factory, usually from midafternoon to midnight. (see also graveyard shift.) My brother works the swing shift, so I never get to see him.
See also: shift, swing
References in classic literature ?
Not the weight of a body shifted from one leg to the other.
All at once his position had shifted and he knew that something awful had happened.
Again Bert reached him and sent him downslope, and the other three, with wild yells, sprang in on Billy, who punched, shifted position, ducked and punched, and shifted again ere he struck the thiird time.
I read that, and then the rays of light shifted and pointed over his shoulder; and there, behind him, stood a fiend laughing.
Indeed, our research has revealed only one case in which a court shifted attorneys' fees associated with production of electronically stored information, and that decision involved no in-depth discussion of the issue (In re Auto.
of the elongation to break data yields a master curve (figure 9) with shifted aging time at 80[degrees]C on the abscissa.
A majority of the women in our survey--58 percent--say that at some time they have changed the way they act in order to fit in or be accepted by whites, and 79 percent of those women say they shifted in the way they communicated, toning down their mannerisms, changing the way they spoke or what they chose to speak about.
Supervisors will decide whether to consolidate Thousand Oaks into one district; whether the Las Posas Valley should be consolidated in either District 3, represented by Kathy Long, or District 4, represented by Judy Mikels; and determine if the Santa Rosa Valley should be shifted from District 4 to District 2 (Frank Schillo) or 3 (Long).
This is because, if the burden of proof were shifted to the government in tax cases, the IRS's enforcement efforts would have to be intensified as the agency endeavored to sustain its heightened burden.
For instance, before the 1986 Tax Reform Act, many high-income parents shifted some of their income to their children to maximize the family's after-tax income.
The number of years dates are shifted is user-defined to ensure all shifted years fall within the same century.