continental drift
Drift Drift, n. [From {drive}; akin to LG. & D. drift a driving, Icel. drift snowdrift, Dan. drift, impulse, drove, herd, pasture, common, G. trift pasturage, drove. See {Drive}.] 1. A driving; a violent movement. [1913 Webster]

The dragon drew him [self] away with drift of his wings. --King Alisaunder (1332). [1913 Webster]

2. The act or motion of drifting; the force which impels or drives; an overpowering influence or impulse. [1913 Webster]

A bad man, being under the drift of any passion, will follow the impulse of it till something interpose. --South. [1913 Webster]

3. Course or direction along which anything is driven; setting. ``Our drift was south.'' --Hakluyt. [1913 Webster]

4. The tendency of an act, argument, course of conduct, or the like; object aimed at or intended; intention; hence, also, import or meaning of a sentence or discourse; aim. [1913 Webster]

He has made the drift of the whole poem a compliment on his country in general. -- Addison. [1913 Webster]

Now thou knowest my drift. --Sir W. Scott. [1913 Webster]

5. That which is driven, forced, or urged along; as: (a) Anything driven at random. ``Some log . . . a useless drift.'' --Dryden. (b) A mass of matter which has been driven or forced onward together in a body, or thrown together in a heap, etc., esp. by wind or water; as, a drift of snow, of ice, of sand, and the like. [1913 Webster]

Drifts of rising dust involve the sky. -- Pope. [1913 Webster]

We got the brig a good bed in the rushing drift [of ice]. --Kane. (c) A drove or flock, as of cattle, sheep, birds. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

Cattle coming over the bridge (with their great drift doing much damage to the high ways). -- Fuller. [1913 Webster]

6. (Arch.) The horizontal thrust or pressure of an arch or vault upon the abutments. [R.] --Knight. [1913 Webster]

7. (Geol.) A collection of loose earth and rocks, or boulders, which have been distributed over large portions of the earth's surface, especially in latitudes north of forty degrees, by the agency of ice. [1913 Webster]

8. In South Africa, a ford in a river. [1913 Webster]

9. (Mech.) A slightly tapered tool of steel for enlarging or shaping a hole in metal, by being forced or driven into or through it; a broach. [1913 Webster]

10. (Mil.) (a) A tool used in driving down compactly the composition contained in a rocket, or like firework. (b) A deviation from the line of fire, peculiar to oblong projectiles. [1913 Webster]

11. (Mining) A passage driven or cut between shaft and shaft; a driftway; a small subterranean gallery; an adit or tunnel. [1913 Webster]

12. (Naut.) (a) The distance through which a current flows in a given time. (b) The angle which the line of a ship's motion makes with the meridian, in drifting. (c) The distance to which a vessel is carried off from her desired course by the wind, currents, or other causes. (d) The place in a deep-waisted vessel where the sheer is raised and the rail is cut off, and usually terminated with a scroll, or driftpiece. (e) The distance between the two blocks of a tackle. [1913 Webster]

13. The difference between the size of a bolt and the hole into which it is driven, or between the circumference of a hoop and that of the mast on which it is to be driven. [1913 Webster]

14. (Phys. Geog.) One of the slower movements of oceanic circulation; a general tendency of the water, subject to occasional or frequent diversion or reversal by the wind; as, the easterly drift of the North Pacific. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

15. (A["e]ronautics) The horizontal component of the pressure of the air on the sustaining surfaces of a flying machine. The lift is the corresponding vertical component, which sustains the machine in the air. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

Note: Drift is used also either adjectively or as the first part of a compound. See {Drift}, a. [1913 Webster]

{Drift of the forest} (O. Eng. Law), an examination or view of the cattle in a forest, in order to see whose they are, whether they are commonable, and to determine whether or not the forest is surcharged. --Burrill. [1913 Webster]

{continental drift} (Geology), the very slow (ca. 1-5 cm per year) movement of the continents and parts of continents relative to each other and to the points of upwelling of magma in the viscous layers beneath the continents; -- causing, for example, the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean by the movement of Africa and South America away from each other. See also {plate tectonics}. [PJC]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Continental drift — the movements of continents relative to each other across the Earth s surface; see {plate tectonics}. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • continental drift — n [U] the very slow movement of the ↑continents across the Earth s surface …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • continental drift — noun uncount TECHNICAL the very gradual movement of CONTINENTS across the Earth s surface …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • continental drift — 1925, a translation of Ger. Kontinentalverschiebung, proposed 1912 by German scientist Alfred Wegener (1880 1930); the theory was not widely accepted until after c.1950 …   Etymology dictionary

  • continental drift — ► NOUN ▪ the gradual movement of the continents across the earth s surface through geological time …   English terms dictionary

  • continental drift — n. the theory that continents slowly shift their positions as a result of currents in the molten rocks of the earth s mantle, plate tectonics, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Continental drift — This article is about the development of the continental drift hypothesis before 1958. For the contemporary theory, see plate tectonics. Antonio Snider Pellegrini s Illustration of the closed and opened Atlantic Ocean (1858). Continental drift is …   Wikipedia

  • continental drift — Geol. the lateral movement of continents resulting from the motion of crustal plates. Cf. plate tectonics. [1925 30] * * * Large scale movements of continents over the course of geologic time. The first complete theory of continental drift was… …   Universalium

  • continental drift — noun the gradual movement and formation of continents (as described by plate tectonics) • Hypernyms: ↑geological phenomenon * * * noun [noncount] technical : the very slow movement of the continents on the surface of the Earth * * * ˌcontinental… …   Useful english dictionary

  • continental drift — N UNCOUNT Continental drift is the slow movement of the Earth s continents towards and away from each other …   English dictionary

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