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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

seismic shift

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.
See also: shift

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 periodicals archive ?
7% ownership apiece, which is also the lowest percentage ownership for all three within the testing period, resulting in a 0% shift for each individual.
During the study, which tracked the men for nearly a decade, prostate cancer was diagnosed in 21 daytime workers, 3 nighttime workers, and 7 shift workers.
As evidence of this he points out that Audi had to introduce artificial shift points "which is pointless on a CVT but that is what the customer wants".
He includes an extensive bibliography with reference to each of the twelve shifts.
Beige Plan, Version B : Consolidates Thousand Oaks into District 2; shifts Port Hueneme from District 2 to District 3; shifts Ojai from District 3 to District 1 (Steve Bennett); and shifts the Santa Rosa Valley from District 4 to District 2.
To second order in the electric field, the Stark shifts of the set of sublevels \[gamma] [JM.
Although many variations can be run out of the 5-3, our core plays remain the slant, shift, and shift to slant.
Similarly, performance appears to decline on shifts in excess of 8 hours and where workers perform physically or mentally demanding or repetitive tasks.
It is entirely possible during a tax shift that we could raise the bar up again, so that it really only affects the top half of the income spectrum.
The incidence of late shifts among metropolitan areas varied, in part, because of differences in industry mix within individual localities.
Last minute scheduling, a tool that extends the range of shifts that can be filled by BidShift by providing an easy way to search for employees who may be able to work an unanticipated shift.
Purple plan: Shifts eastern Las Posas Valley from District 4 to 3; the Oxnard Plain and Cal State University, Channel Islands, from District 2 to 3; and Newbury Park from District 3 to 2.
Nonetheless, the expansion of the theory strengthens the case for a third physical mechanism underlying spectral shifts even in light from stationary sources.
Staff use the technology to log on from work or home, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to view and request to work open shifts beyond their base schedule and their own unit when qualified to do so.
Valley police divisions are abandoning entire mid-shift patrols because they don't have enough officers and their local commanders can't approve overtime for the shifts, the Daily News has learned.