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’
    • ‘Regardless, the following day, Bradley's body was found in his boat, adrift off the island that now bears his name, Bradley Key.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Pandosto seizes the infant Fawnia, casts her adrift in an open boat, and tries Bellaria for adultery and treason.’
    • ‘Indeed, the vendetta seems aimed at the community also, for it has seen a deer fence cut and boats set adrift.’
    • ‘The second boat then came adrift, floating down the river ablaze.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Mother and son are cast adrift but rescued by Jupiter and, after Perseus has completed his tasks, he kills Acrisius by accident.’
    • ‘The crew mutinied soon after leaving Tahiti, casting Bligh and 18 of the crew adrift in a small boat with little food and water.’
    • ‘Both are about a teenage boy adrift in a boat with a tiger after a shipwreck.’
    • ‘In 1789, the first mate of the Bounty, Fletcher Christian, had cast Captain Bligh and 18 others adrift in an open boat.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Morgana is imprisoned and Eric loses his hand before being cast adrift in the North Sea.’
    • ‘They were discovered on board by the crew and cast adrift on a life raft.’
    • ‘Australian authorities have found no signs of foul play aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat found adrift and abandoned off western Australia.’
    • ‘We are helplessly adrift and our current location is unknown.’
    • ‘The crew had been cast adrift in a rubber boat Oct.29 and were not rescued until 11 days later.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Five of them were recovered after four hours adrift by another dive boat and the other two by fishermen.’
    • ‘To appease the gods, the king put his daughter, Princess Devi, in a boat and cast it adrift.’
    • ‘His boat Brittany Rose was cast adrift, according to the Ocean Rowing Society.’
    drifting, unmoored, unanchored
    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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    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’
      • ‘It pained me to leave her like this, but - but - I was adrift in a sea of uncertainty.’
      • ‘Based on my previous experience, many customers are adrift.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If adults are so adrift, what can they offer their children?’
      • ‘He was adrift, proof that one's personal life is intertwined with the professional.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A fixing had come adrift, freeing about seven or eight feet of the bamboo screening.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The point, though, still leaves then nine points adrift of leaders Luton.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Steeton are now five points adrift of safety in Division A despite claiming a winning draw at Beckwithshaw.’
    • ‘Guiseley remain in third place on 22 points, three behind Bilton and a further seven adrift of Menston.’
    • ‘Gomersal are still ten points adrift of Yeadon, who had the better of their drawn home match against Farsley.’
    • ‘A tremendous late charge from local ace Tony Skelton put him into second at the expense of Forster, just 0. 17s adrift of Wallbank.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Silsden now have 34 points, two behind Thackley and a further two adrift of Harden.’
    • ‘Rawdon's surge in form means second-bottom Menston are now five points adrift of safety and tomorrow face a tough trip to Guiseley.’
    • ‘Skipton are seven points adrift of safety after going down to a Knaresborough side in which Mike Baxendall continued his wicket taking.’
    • ‘After two rounds, however, he found himself seven strokes adrift of Bobby Clampett, his unheralded American compatriot.’
    • ‘The result has seen them gain ground on rivals Spain and France but they are still well adrift of leaders Brazil.’
    • ‘He ended a broken man, five strokes adrift of his British playing partner.’
    • ‘Gronholm recovered one place to take sixth place overnight but he is still almost a minute adrift of Martin.’
    • ‘Second-bottom Ilkley are a point behind Calverley and a further two adrift of Knaresborough, who claimed a crucial win at bottom club Skipton.’


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