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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?
A major change. (Seismology is the study of earthquakes.) That press conference was such a disaster that I'm worried it will cause a seismic shift in how voters view him as a candidate for president. In just the last century, there has been a seismic shift in the treatment of women in this country.
fend for oneself Go to shift for
shift for oneselfand 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.
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.
1. 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.
2. a nonautomatic transmission. I can't drive a stick shift! My husband took the other car and stuck me with the stick shift.
shift gearsalso 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)
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.
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!
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.
To provide for, take care of, or defend oneself without assistance. Used reflexively: The teenagers went camping, confident that they could shift for themselves.
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?
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.
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.
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.