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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

shift (one's) arse

rude slang To shift very or get out of someone's way quickly. Usually used as an imperative. Primarily heard in UK. Hey, you in the red sedan! shift your arse, already! Would you go upstairs and tell the kids to shift their arses?
See also: arse, shift

shift gears

To quickly or abruptly change what one is doing or discussing. With that out of the way, let's shift gears and discuss our strategy for the third quarter. About halfway into the story, the book shifts gears and begins a narrative from the perspective of the antagonist.
See also: gear, shift

shift (one's) ground

To adopt a different viewpoint or opinion. I was shocked when Liz suddenly shifted her ground and started seeing things as I did.
See also: ground, shift

graveyard shift

A work shift that occurs late at night. I'm a morning person, so I could never work the graveyard shift like you do.
See also: graveyard, shift

make shift

old fashioned To cope or manage to do something without all the resources that one would ideally like to have. Often followed by "with" or "without," depending on the context of the sentence. We don't have all the spices we need for this recipe, but since the weather is so bad, we're just going to have to make shift with what we have. Since I forgot to pick up milk on the way home, I guess we're just going to have to make shift without it. When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, but we made shift.
See also: make, shift

shift for (oneself)

To do things for oneself; to not rely on the help or patronage of someone else. It's no wonder that kids these days can't hold down meaningful jobs, when they're pampered from birth and can't shift for themselves by the time they leave school. You're going to have to learn to shift for yourself before you head off to college.
See also: shift

the shifting sands of (something)

The constantly changing circumstances or aspects of something that makes it particularly difficult to understand or contend with. Older adults often find themselves struggling to keep up with the ever-shifting sands of technology. Part of the problem is that we've convinced ourselves that personal happiness depends on the shifting sands of romantic love, which does real damage to our ability to live fulfilled and contented lives as independent people.
See also: of, sand, shift

blame shifting

The act of exchanging accusations and blame, as between two or more parties, during a dispute or some undesirable event. After the team lost the match, there was a bit of blame shifting going on between the players and the coaches. The government parties prefer to partake in blame shifting during an economic crisis.
See also: blame, 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 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

shifting sands

You can talk about the shifting sands of a situation when it keeps changing, and this makes it difficult to deal with. It's a struggle to keep up with the shifting sands of fashion. The problem is that the whole economy has been built on the shifting sands of finance, not the rock of industry.
See also: sand, shift

make shift

do what you want to do in spite of not having ideal conditions; get along somehow.
See also: make, shift

shift for yourself

manage as best you can without help.
See also: shift

shift your ground

say or write something that contradicts something you have previously written or said.
See also: ground, shift

shift your ˈground

(usually disapproving) change your opinion or position, especially during an argument or a discussion: He’s shifted his ground on many major policy issues. OPPOSITE: stand fast/firm
See also: ground, shift

(the) ˌshifting ˈsands (of something)

used to describe a situation that changes so often that it is difficult to understand or deal with it: the shifting sands of the digital age
See also: sand, 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 ?
Among female nurses alone, those who worked the night shift had an increased risk of breast (58 percent), gastrointestinal (35 percent), and lung cancer (28 percent) compared with those that did not work night shifts.
After considering these key points, the shift-by-wire ECU (SBW ECU) was introduced to perform judgment of shift inputs and parking mechanism shifting, and the shift function for driving force direction was allocated to the powertrain ECU.
There was a huge difference found between the day employees and night shift employees.
Impact of 12h shift patterns in nursing: A scoping review.
11) Overall, the weight of evidence is starting to suggest nurses and patients are at greater risk of accident and injury when nurses work 12 hours or more on a single shift, compared to when nurses work eight hours or less.
However, shift work was not associated with increased death rates from any cause.
Educate health care facilities of the importance of limiting the amount of 12-hour shifts that can be worked consecutively.
While shift work comes with difficulties, many people enjoy working nights.
Clause 25(ix) states that you need to be allowed to have a minimum of 10 hours off duty without loss of pay between the end of your overtime shift and the commencement of your next rostered shift.
An ownership change occurs when there is a greater-than-50% shift in ownership among "5% shareholders.
Insurance companies should be aware that, whether they are responding to subpoenas as nonparties or issuing subpoenas on their own behalf, in the area where nonparties are most likely to incur significant costs--attorney's fees resulting from reviewing documents for responsiveness and privilege--there are arguments to be made that these costs should shift from producing parties to requesting parties.
NEW YORK -- One day after New York Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado went 3 for 3 with a home run against him -- and 4 for 5 overall -- in the Dodgers' Game 1 loss, Derek Lowe re-emphasized his dislike of the dramatic defensive shift the Dodgers often employ on the infield against powerful left- handed pull hitters like Delgado.
A shift is the process which occurs when the letter's of one word are all shifted the same number of steps along the alphabet (looping from Z to A) to make another word.
Time temperature superposition was used to generate a master curve through empirical shift factors (figure 6).