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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.
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?
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.
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.
A work shift that occurs late at night. I'm a morning person, so I could never work the graveyard shift like you do.
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 we can 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. A transmission system in a motor vehicle that requires the driver to manually change gears with a clutch and shifting lever. I never learned how to drive a stick shift, so Mary had to drive for the whole road trip.
2. A motor vehicle that has such a manual transmission. My last car was a stick shift, so it took a little while to get used to this new automatic.
A work shift typically beginning in the late afternoon or early evening and ending around midnight. I worked the swing shift at a 24-hour restaurant for a while, and it really messed up my body clock. I hate it when they put me on the swing shifts at the hospital.
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 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.
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.
make shiftdo what you want to do in spite of not having ideal conditions; get along somehow.
shift for yourselfmanage as best you can without help.
shift your groundsay or write something that contradicts something you have previously written or said.
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
(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
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.