1. The act of shifting. Specifically: The act of putting one thing in the place of another, or of changing the place of a thing; change; substitution. My going to Oxford was not merely for shift of air. (Sir H. Wotton) A turning from one thing to another; hence, an expedient tried in difficalty; often, an evasion; a trick; a fraud. Reduced to pitiable shifts. I ‘ll find a thousand shifts to get away. (Shak) Little souls on little shifts rely. (Dryden)
2. Something frequently shifted; especially, a woman’s under-garment; a chemise.
3. The change of one set of workmen for another; hence, a spell, or turn, of work; also, a set of workmen who work in turn with other sets; as, a night shift.
4. In building, the extent, or arrangement, of the overlapping of plank, brick, stones, etc, that are placed in courses so as to break joints.
5. (Science: chemical) A breaking off and dislocation of a seam; a fault.
6. A change of the position of the hand on the finger board, in playing the violin. To make shift, to contrive or manage in an exigency. I shall make shift to go without him. They made a shift to keep their own in Ireland. (milton)
Origin: Cf. Icel skipti. See Shift.