Definition of adrift in English:



  • 1predicative (of a boat or its passengers) floating without being either moored or steered.

    ‘a cargo ship went adrift’
    ‘the seamen are adrift in lifeboats’
    • ‘His boat Brittany Rose was cast adrift, according to the Ocean Rowing Society.’
    • ‘Mother and son are cast adrift but rescued by Jupiter and, after Perseus has completed his tasks, he kills Acrisius by accident.’
    • ‘We are helplessly adrift and our current location is unknown.’
    • ‘Indeed, the vendetta seems aimed at the community also, for it has seen a deer fence cut and boats set adrift.’
    • ‘In 1789, the first mate of the Bounty, Fletcher Christian, had cast Captain Bligh and 18 others adrift in an open boat.’
    • ‘Five of them were recovered after four hours adrift by another dive boat and the other two by fishermen.’
    • ‘We were adrift in the Atlantic, the boat moving only with the rocking of the waves and when the rare puff of wind blew through our sails.’
    • ‘Australian authorities have found no signs of foul play aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat found adrift and abandoned off western Australia.’
    • ‘Tragically, his boat was later found adrift, no sign of him on board, and in a filthy cabin were the insane diary entries of one who had clearly lost his mind.’
    • ‘The skipper and another person jumped into the water as someone cut the lines to the boat, setting it adrift in a 10-knot breeze.’
    • ‘Pandosto seizes the infant Fawnia, casts her adrift in an open boat, and tries Bellaria for adultery and treason.’
    • ‘The crew mutinied soon after leaving Tahiti, casting Bligh and 18 of the crew adrift in a small boat with little food and water.’
    • ‘The crew had been cast adrift in a rubber boat Oct.29 and were not rescued until 11 days later.’
    • ‘They were discovered on board by the crew and cast adrift on a life raft.’
    • ‘To appease the gods, the king put his daughter, Princess Devi, in a boat and cast it adrift.’
    • ‘Yet he cannot even run his own department; while the captain of the ship squabbles with his crew below deck, the vessel is adrift and rudderless.’
    • ‘Both are about a teenage boy adrift in a boat with a tiger after a shipwreck.’
    • ‘The second boat then came adrift, floating down the river ablaze.’
    • ‘Regardless, the following day, Bradley's body was found in his boat, adrift off the island that now bears his name, Bradley Key.’
    • ‘Morgana is imprisoned and Eric loses his hand before being cast adrift in the North Sea.’
    drifting, unmoored, unanchored
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    1. 1.1 Without purpose, direction, or guidance.
      ‘she found herself cast adrift in a land full of strangers’
      ‘the film industry was adrift in a sea of debt’
      • ‘When he was young he had put glow in the dark stars all over the ceiling so when the lights were off the entire ceiling glowed and Joe felt like he was peacefully adrift among them.’
      • ‘Based on my previous experience, many customers are adrift.’
      • ‘More than ever, and never more than at that moment, she found herself cast adrift in a land full of strangers, with strange ways and customs.’
      • ‘He was adrift, proof that one's personal life is intertwined with the professional.’
      • ‘It pained me to leave her like this, but - but - I was adrift in a sea of uncertainty.’
      • ‘If adults are so adrift, what can they offer their children?’
      lost, off course, off track, off the right track, having lost one's bearings, disorientated, disoriented, confused, bewildered, at sea, all at sea
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    2. 1.2informal No longer fixed in position.
      ‘one of my fillings has come adrift’
      • ‘One of the turret covers had come adrift and impacted the fin, causing a partial loss of rudder effectiveness.’
      • ‘The string was for making any running repairs if any part of the harness should break or come adrift, the knife to cut the string and to pierce the leather to make the repair; and the shilling in case you needed to use a phone box to call home.’
      • ‘The whole of the window section can be pulled slightly adrift of its moorings and pivoted magically into the boot, which turns out to have a false bottom, like a spy's suitcase.’
      • ‘Motorbikes and scooters too are also best given a miss, because their vibrations can cause the leads to come adrift.’
      • ‘He is wearing a chocolate brown moleskin suit, a dark shirt and tartan clip-on braces, one of which has come adrift.’
      • ‘A fixing had come adrift, freeing about seven or eight feet of the bamboo screening.’
      • ‘All on its own, with no aid or assistance from either clumsy poet or inquisitive cat, the heavy decorative roller blind at the window had come adrift from its mooring and fallen onto the windowsill.’
      loose, free, astray
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  • 2British informal predicative Failing to reach a target or winning position.

    ‘the team are three points adrift of the leaders’
    • ‘Guiseley remain in third place on 22 points, three behind Bilton and a further seven adrift of Menston.’
    • ‘He ended a broken man, five strokes adrift of his British playing partner.’
    • ‘The result has seen them gain ground on rivals Spain and France but they are still well adrift of leaders Brazil.’
    • ‘Rawdon's surge in form means second-bottom Menston are now five points adrift of safety and tomorrow face a tough trip to Guiseley.’
    • ‘Steeton are now five points adrift of safety in Division A despite claiming a winning draw at Beckwithshaw.’
    • ‘Gronholm recovered one place to take sixth place overnight but he is still almost a minute adrift of Martin.’
    • ‘However, Gary Greenwood led the fight-back with an unbeaten 39 only to run out of partners with Thackley just two runs adrift of forcing a tie.’
    • ‘Silsden now have 34 points, two behind Thackley and a further two adrift of Harden.’
    • ‘A tremendous late charge from local ace Tony Skelton put him into second at the expense of Forster, just 0. 17s adrift of Wallbank.’
    • ‘Second-bottom Ilkley are a point behind Calverley and a further two adrift of Knaresborough, who claimed a crucial win at bottom club Skipton.’
    • ‘And despite heading for Kingfield three points adrift of the play-off places, Coleman believes the fixture list means the Reds still hold their destiny in their own hands.’
    • ‘After two rounds, however, he found himself seven strokes adrift of Bobby Clampett, his unheralded American compatriot.’
    • ‘The point, though, still leaves then nine points adrift of leaders Luton.’
    • ‘Without that win, England would be third in the qualifying group, two points adrift of Slovakia and five behind Turkey with the visit to Istanbul still to come.’
    • ‘But Neil Emblen levelled to keep Colin Todd's side in 11 th spot, still five points adrift of the play-offs.’
    • ‘Wolves, everyone's tip for an instant return to the Nationwide League after they were so ruthlessly taken apart at Ewood on the opening day, are now just three points adrift of Rovers in the table.’
    • ‘But the Bushrangers are yet to mirror that success in the one-day game with one win and a loss for five points, four behind leader Tasmania and three adrift of Queensland and NSW.’
    • ‘Skipton are seven points adrift of safety after going down to a Knaresborough side in which Mike Baxendall continued his wicket taking.’
    • ‘Gomersal are still ten points adrift of Yeadon, who had the better of their drawn home match against Farsley.’


Late 16th century: from a- ‘on, in’ + drift.