Etymology
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drift (n.)

early 14c., literally "a being driven" (at first of snow, rain, etc.); not recorded in Old English, it is either a suffixed form of drive (v.) (compare thrift/thrive) or borrowed from Old Norse drift "snow drift," or Middle Dutch drift "pasturage, drove, flock," both from Proto-Germanic *driftiz (source also of Danish and Swedish drift, German Trift), from PIE root *dhreibh- "to drive, push" (see drive (v.)).

"A being driven," hence "anything driven," especially a number of things or a heap of matter driven or moving together (mid-15c.). Figurative sense of "aim, intention, what one is getting at" (on the notion of "course, tendency") is from 1520s. Nautical sense of "deviation of a ship from its course in consequence of currents" is from 1670s. Meaning "controlled slide of a sports car" attested by 1955.

drift (v.)

late 16c., "to float or be driven along by a current," from drift (n.). Transitive sense of "to drive in heaps" is from 1610s. Figurative sense of "be passive and listless" is from 1822. Related: Drifted; drifting. To drift apart "gradually lose mutual affection" is by 1859.

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Definitions of drift
1
drift (v.)
be in motion due to some air or water current;
the boat drifted on the lake
the shipwrecked boat drifted away from the shore
Synonyms: float / be adrift / blow
drift (v.)
wander from a direct course or at random;
don't drift from the set course
Synonyms: stray / err
drift (v.)
move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment;
the laborers drift from one town to the next
Synonyms: roll / wander / swan / stray / tramp / roam / cast / ramble / rove / range / vagabond
drift (v.)
vary or move from a fixed point or course;
stock prices are drifting higher
drift (v.)
live unhurriedly, irresponsibly, or freely;
My son drifted around for years in California before going to law school
Synonyms: freewheel
drift (v.)
move in an unhurried fashion;
The unknown young man drifted among the invited guests
drift (v.)
cause to be carried by a current;
drift the boats downstream
drift (v.)
drive slowly and far afield for grazing;
drift the cattle herds westwards
drift (v.)
be subject to fluctuation;
The stock market drifted upward
drift (v.)
be piled up in banks or heaps by the force of wind or a current;
sand drifting like snow
snow drifting several feet high
2
drift (n.)
a force that moves something along;
Synonyms: impetus / impulsion
drift (n.)
the gradual departure from an intended course due to external influences (as a ship or plane);
drift (n.)
a process of linguistic change over a period of time;
drift (n.)
a large mass of material that is heaped up by the wind or by water currents;
drift (n.)
a general tendency to change (as of opinion);
Synonyms: trend / movement
drift (n.)
the pervading meaning or tenor;
caught the general drift of the conversation
Synonyms: purport
drift (n.)
a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) passageway in a mine;
they dug a drift parallel with the vein
Synonyms: heading / gallery
From wordnet.princeton.edu